MDC calls for release of activists and mourners

May 24, 2011 at 12:36 am Leave a comment

by Irene Madongo
MDC-T activists and mourners from a funeral, who are still being held behind
bars since last week, must be released as they are being held on trumped-up
charges, says Obert Gutu, the MDC-T’s Secretary for Harare Province. Gutu
also said some of those being held are unwell, yet they are being denied
access to their medication.

LastThursday 35 people were arrested in Warren Park, Harare, at the funeral
of MDC-T activist Jack Ndeketeya, who died in a car accident last week. The
35 included MDC-T activists, Ndeketeya’s elderly and ailing father, a pastor
and other mourners. They were held at Harare Central Police Station and
charged with assault and theft.

There were also allegations that the mourners provoked farmers at the
near-by Boka Tobacco Auction Floors after the funeral. The MDC-T has denied
this, saying they were ambushed by suspected ZANU PF activists who showed
up, caused trouble and then blamed the MDC-T.

Over the weekend Ndeketeya’s parents were released. But on Monday, the MDC-T
said the remaining activists and mourners appeared in court charged with
theft and assault, with the authorities still refusing to say who they are
alleged to have robbed. They were remanded in custody and will appear in
court again on Tuesday.

Gutu said he is concerned about those still locked up and that their
condition has left him depressed. He said it was ridiculous to accuse them
of robbing or provoking people in their state.

“There are some who are on anti-retroviral medication and they were not
given permission to access their tablets, which I was advised they had to
take on a daily basis. There was this elderly gentleman, I could not get his
name, but he was very frail looking,” Gutu explained, “he said he had a tube
in his stomach or somewhere and he said he was just sick. I could see for
myself he was not well.”

“This is just the usual ZANU PF strategy of just trying to victimize MDC
supporters and anyone who is perceived to be sympathetic to the MDC. It’s
just the abuse of the law, the judicial system, just to persecute MDC
activists,” Gutu said.

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