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Christmas in jail

At least 14 Movement for Democratic Change and civic activists were expected to spend the 2008 Christmas in jail or police cells, but what was more astonishing was that police were either refusing that they were detaining them or denying access to them.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers Association said the this was in defiance of various court orders to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to “all things necessary to determine their whereabouts” and to “dispatch a team of detectives to work closely and in conjunction with lawyers appointed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, to search (for all people) at such places as may be within their jurisdiction in terms of the Police Act”.

ZLHR confirmed the location of the following detainees:

  • Jestina Mukoko (ZPP Executive Director)
  • Broderick Takawira (ZPP Provincial Coordinator for Harare and Mashonaland East)
  • Pascal Gonzo (ZPP driver)
  • Concillia Chinhanzvana (MDC MP candidate for Zvimba South, MDC Mashonaland West Women’s Assembly provincial chairperson, and MDC National Council Member)
  • Emmanuel Chinhanzvana (Ward 25 Councillor in Zvimba South, married to Concillia Chinhanzvana)
  • Pieta Kaseke (Affiliation unclear)
  • Gandhi Mudzingwa (Former personal assistant to Morgan Tsvangirai)
  • Zachariah Nkomo (Brother of human rights lawyer Harrison Nkomo)
  • Mapfumo Garutsa (Affiliation unclear)
  • Regis Mujeyi (Affiliation unclear)
  • Violet Mupfuranhehwe (wife of MDC Zvimba South Youth Chairperson,
  • Collen Mutemagawo, who was also abducted and is still unaccounted for)

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE1138, MDC, ZPP DETAINEES TO GET CHRISTMAS EVE COURT


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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE1138

2008-12-24 12:16

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4591

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #1138/01 3591216

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 241216Z DEC 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3858

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2512

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2635

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1128

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1904

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2259

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2684

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5112

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1791

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001138

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/24/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: MDC, ZPP DETAINEES TO GET CHRISTMAS EVE COURT

APPEARANCES

 

REF: HARARE 1100

 

Classified By: Charge Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4(d).

 

——

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (SBU) After weeks of repeated public denials by the GOZ

that dozens of MDC and civil society leaders were in state

custody, lawyers learned on the afternoon of December 23 that

numerous abductees were in police stations around Harare.

After hours of searching individual police stations, lawyers

confirmed the locations in Harare police stations of 14

individuals who had recently been subjected to enforced

disappearances by the state. The government mouthpiece, The

Herald, reported on December 24 that Jestina Mukoko, Director

of the Zimbabwe Peace Project and 13 others will face charges

of recruiting people for military training in an effort to

overthrow the current government. In a press and diplomatic

briefing by lawyers on the morning of the 24th, lawyers

reported that the police continued to be uncooperative and

refused to tell them of the charges their clients faced.

Lawyers continue to be denied access to the abductees and

have not been allowed to give them food. The group of 14 is

scheduled to appear in court to be charged on the afternoon

of December 24. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————————— —————–

Police Uncooperative, in Direct Violation of High Court Orders

——————————————— —————–

 

2. (U) To date, at least two dozen MDC members and civil

society leaders have been abducted since October 30 (reftel).

Lawyers affiliated with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

(ZLHR) have sought detainees at police stations and have

obtained numerous petitions from the High Court in recent

weeks ordering police to do everything possible to locate the

abductees. One court order states, in part, that police

should do “all things necessary to determine their

whereabouts” and to “dispatch a team of detectives to work

closely and in conjunction with lawyers appointed by Zimbabwe

Lawyers for Human Rights, to search (for all people) at such

places as may be within their jurisdiction in terms of the

Police Act.” These court orders were directed to the Ministry

of Home Affairs and the Commissioner General of Police, who

should have directed their subordinates to act. Police have

denied holding them or having any knowledge of their

abductions. On December 23, ZLHR began to receive

information that some of the abductees were in Harare police

stations. Lawyers searched numerous Harare police stations

that afternoon and found 14 abductees, including two they did

not know had been abducted, in eight different Harare police

stations. In a press and diplomatic briefing on December 24,

ZLHR Director Irene Petras said that they strongly believe

more abductees are in police custody, in direct contravention

of the High Court orders.

 

3. (SBU) ZLHR board member and long-time human rights lawyer

Beatrice Mtetwa, who is also representing Jestina Mukoko,

detailed a series of encounters with police in which they

refused to allow the lawyers to see the log books of

detainees in the jails, refused to meet with her and other

lawyers regarding these cases, and were uncooperative,

despite the court orders. At the Mabelreign police station

on December 23, the superintendent confirmed he had two of

the detainees in his custody, but said no one could see them

without permission from a superior officer. In addition, one

member of civil society told us that she gave one off-duty

policeman a ride on December 24 who confessed that others are

 

HARARE 00001138 002 OF 003

 

 

in jail but police are under strict orders to not reveal

their whereabouts. ZLHR further detailed that the operation

has been led by Chief Superintendent Magwenzi along with

other police officers from the Law and Order section.

Magwenzi conceded to lawyers on December 23 that he is the

investigating officer in these cases and has all missing

persons in his custody. He told lawyers that the two

detainees at Mabelreign had been moved, but refused to say

where they were or when lawyers could see them. He went on

to say he was unaware that any high court order regarding the

detainees existed. (NOTE: In response to the court order

regarding Mukoko, lawyers have placed numerous, full-page ads

with her photo in Zimbabwean newspapers, including The

Herald. END NOTE.) ZLHR is again filing an urgent High

Court application on December 24 directing police to bring

all detained persons before a court of law, to grant them

access to legal and medical services, and to release them as

a result of the unlawful treatment they have endured.

 

4. (U) ZLHR laid out six points of concern in connection

with the abductions: (1) the continued trend of separating

detained people in various police stations, hindering their

legal access, (2) police contempt of at least six High Court

orders in connection with these cases, (3) unlawful search

and seizure of property without search warrants, (4) the now

commonplace practice of denying detainees access to food,

medical care, and their lawyers despite clear constitutional

protective provisions, (5) the failure or refusal of the

investigative officer and other police officials to disclose

charges against these individuals and to allow lawyers to

meet with their clients before they are brought to court, and

(6) the continued breach of the September 15 agreement that

called on all political parties to ensure security and

fundamental rights and freedoms.

 

5. (U) As of 10:30 on the morning of December 24, lawyers

were still unaware of the charges facing their clients.

Mtetwa said that she also had read in The Herald that the

detainees would face charges of recruiting people to undergo

military training to overthrow the government. She also said

that in one police station, an empathetic officer allowed

them to see the log book of detainees — against orders from

his superiors — which showed some are due to face charges

under sections 23 and 24 of the Criminal Code, which deal

with banditry and conspiring to commit banditry. Lawyers

argue that all of the detainees should be released because

they were arrested and have been held unlawfully.

 

6. (U) ZLHR has confirmed the location of the following

detainees:

 

Jestina Mukoko (ZPP Executive Director)

Broderick Takawira (ZPP Provincial Coordinator for Harare and

Mashonaland East)

Pascal Gonzo (ZPP driver)

Concillia Chinhanzvana (MDC MP candidate for Zvimba South,

MDC Mashonaland West Women’s Assembly provincial chairperson,

and MDC National Council Member)

Emmanuel Chinhanzvana (Ward 25 Councilor in Zvimba South,

married to Concillia Chinhanzvana)

Pieta Kaseske (Affiliation unclear)

Gandhi Mudzingwa (Former personal assistant to Morgan

Tsvangirai)

Zachariah Nkomo (Brother of human rights lawyer Harrison

Nkomo)

Mapfumo Garutsa (Affiliation unclear)

Regis Mujeyi (Affiliation unclear)

Violet Mupfuranhehwe (wife of MDC Zvimba South Youth

Chairperson, Collen Mutemagawo, who was also abducted and is

still unaccounted for)

 

HARARE 00001138 003 OF 003

 

 

Nigel Mutemagawo (Two-year-old son of Violet Mupfuranhehwe

and Collen Mutemagawo)

Mr. Makwezadzimba (Affiliation unclear, first name not known)

 

——————————————— ————

Detainees Appear at Court in South African Plated Vehicle

——————————————— ————

 

7. (C) Mtetwa told us that after the press briefing, she and

other lawyers “stalked” the police stations in an effort to

find their clients and determine when they would be brought

to court. When they saw several of the abductees being taken

to vehicles, they went to the magistrates courts and found

some of their clients. Strangely, five detainees were

brought to court by police in a red Volkswagen van bearing

South African license plates (HNL-223-GP). Mtetwa told us

she had already reported the license plate to the South

African embassy to check if it is a real license plate or

not. Usually detainees are brought to court with armed

guards traveling in a separate vehicle. However, in this

case, three armed police were in the van with them. Members

from the press and diplomatic corps were on hand to see them

and the South African plated vehicle. When the detainees

were paraded out of the vehicle in front of the press, they

appeared exhausted and disheveled, but did not show outward

signs of physical abuse. Even when the detainees were

brought into the court’s holding cells, lawyers were still

not allowed to see their clients. As of noon, only nine of

those charged had been brought to court; they are scheduled

to appear in court at 2:15 on December 24.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

8. (C) Even in Zimbabwe, where the entire judicial and law

enforcement system has become increasingly corrupt, Mtetwa

told us she had “never seen something like this before.” The

Mugabe regime has shown complete disregard for the rule of

law by holding Zimbabwean citizens incommunicado for almost

two months, ignoring their constitutional rights and showing

blatant contempt for court orders. It has been known for

weeks that coerced testimony from some of these abductees was

the centerpiece of the case the regime made to SADC outlining

trumped up accusations of MDC military training in Botswana.

Although they remain in grave jeopardy from the corrupt

Zimbabwean justice system, the abductees’ surfacing is

generally regard as good news. Those facing charges are

alive, and we continue to hope the others will be located

quickly. END COMMENT.

 

DHANANI

(6 VIEWS)

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