Cops raid ZimRights offices

HARARE - As the clampdown on human rights activists continues, police yesterday descended on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) offices purportedly looking for "documents."

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) information officer Kumbirai Mafunda confirmed the raid yesterday.

“Two members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police are currently searching ZimRights offices at their head office in Harare. ZLHR members, lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Gift Mtisi are accompanying the police officers.

“ZimRights director Okay Machisa has been taken in for questioning at Harare Central Police Station. Machisa handed himself to the police on Monday  January 14, 2013 accompanied by his lawyers,” ZLHR information officer Kumbirai Mafunda said in a statement yesterday afternoon.

Mtisi said they were looking for vouchers.

“Police were looking for documents in respect of a certain woman who is said to have been paid by Zimrights. They did not get anything but they took some documents. It’s a continuation of the case in which two other staffers were arrested and are still in police custody,” Mtisi said.

Contacted for comment late yesterday, Mtetwa said she was still at the police station and her client was signing a warned and cautioned statement.

Two ZimRights officials, Dorcas Shereni, 42, and Leo Chamahwinya, 28, employed by ZimRights as chairperson and programmes manager respectively were in December arrested on forgery charges and have been languishing in prison ever since.

They also face conspiracy to commit fraud charges or publishing false statements prejudicial to the state and misrepresentations regarding the registrar general’s office.

At their initial court appearance late last year, the state argued there was a possibility the misrepresentation could cause “bloodshed or a chaotic situation in Zimbabwe” if the fake documents were detected during the 2013 general elections.

There are growing fears the current clampdown could be aimed at cowing human rights activists and organisations into submission as the state gears its apparatchiks up for the anticipated general election that could turn out to be another blood spattered exercise as was seen in 2008.

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