'Probe police torture of protesters'

HARARE - Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights representatives for 105 protestors that were nabbed over demonstrations in Harare have threatened to boycott trial proceedings demanding that State complies with a court order to investigate their clients’ torture by police.

Obey Shava and Trust Manda represent the group that was advised to appear for trial commencement on December 6.

They appeared before Harare magistrate Bianca Makwande facing allegations of public violence.

On the initial remand in July this year, Shava complained that his clients had been subject to inhuman treatment and torture at the hands of the police who arrested them.

An order was subsequently issued for the State to investigate the complaints by Harare provincial magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe.

However, prosecutors professed ignorance of the issuance of the said order when they advised accused persons of their trial date.

The magistrate had to peruse through the record to establish if the court had issued such an order before advising the State to compile and present the report before trial commencement.

“May it be placed on record that on December 6, if the State fails to investigate the complaints as ordered we will be making an application that the trial proceedings be put in abeyance until they abide,” Shava said.

“When we initially appeared in this court, complaints were raised against the conduct of police details against our clients before an order was issued. State ought to comply with the court’s orders.”

According to State papers, on July 4 this year, police received a tip-off that protesters from Greater Harare Association for Commuter Omnibuses were demonstrating in Epworth, Zimre Park and Mabvuku.

The court heard that the rioters had blocked traffic flow at Chans Shopping Centre using boulders, drums and burning tyres.

The demonstrators allegedly forced passengers to disembark from commuter omnibuses until police moved in to calm the situation.

The court heard that the accused persons began charging at the cops throwing stones and threatening them with death.

Police officers who sustained injuries from the attacks are still receiving medical attention.

Accused persons were later arrested. 

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