ZIMBABWEAN authorities on Friday 26 February 2021 arrested student leaders, juveniles and a journalist in a fresh crackdown on human rights defenders.
First to be arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members, were three students namely Richard Paradzayi, Paidamoyo Masaraure and Leam Kanengoni, who were apprehended at Harare Magistrates Court on allegations of unnecessary movement.
Paradzayi, Masaraure and Kanengoni, who are represented by Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), were detained at Harare Central Police Station.
ZRP members also arrested Kumbirai Mafunda, a freelance journalist inside Harare Magistrates Court, where he was covering the appearance in court of pro-democracy campaigner Makomborero Haruzivishe and accused him of practising journalism without accreditation from Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC).
The five police officers who arrested Mafunda and detained him together with Paradzayi, Masaraure and Kanengoni at a police post located at Harare Magistrates Court, refused to accept representations by the freelance journalist and his lawyers Obey Shava, Kossam Ncube and Jeremiah Bamu to the effect that law enforcement officers and other stakeholders should accept ZMC accreditation cards issued to media practitioners in 2019 and 2020 as the media regulatory body failed to undertake its national accreditation outreach programme in 2020 owing to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.
Mafunda, who was taken to Harare Central Police, was only released without charges preferred against him after his lawyers, who also included Tinomuda Shoko and Idirashe Chikomba, made representations to Chief Superintendent Oscar Mugomeri, the ZRP Officer Commanding Harare Central District regarding the status of accreditation of journalists and who ordered the release of the freelance journalist.
ZRP members also arrested Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) leaders who include Tafadzwa Ngadziore and Tapiwa Chiriga among others. The ZINASU leaders are represented by Chinopfukutwa and Bamu.
Earlier on Thursday 25 February 2021, ZRP members arrested Edmond Chimwene at Harare Magistrates Court and detained him at Harare Central Police for allegedly staging a one-man demonstration at Harare Magistrates Court, where he wore a t-shirt inscribed with words such as “Marxist for Life”, “Justice for All”, “Peace” and “Freedom”. Chimwene is represented by Bamu and Chinopfukutwa of ZLHR.
In Chitungwiza, ZRP members arrested five juveniles and eight adult residents, who were detained for about five hours at Town Centre Police Station, where they were charged with committing public violence after law enforcement agents alleged that they were part of a group of people who allegedly attacked police officers who wanted to arrest a bar and restaurant owner for breaching national lockdown regulations.
In their defence, the juveniles, who are represented by Freddy Masarirevu of ZLHR, said they were just picked up by police officers who knocked and conducted a door to door search for all male persons while others said they were arrested while fetching water at a community borehole.
The juveniles, who were later released following Masarirevu’s intervention are expected to appear at Chitungwiza Magistrates Court on Saturday 27 February 2021.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights