CIO officer forced MDC activist to lie naked in his urine

A member of the Movement for Democratic Change who was arrested, detained and tortured together with legislator Job Sikhala said one of his interrogators, who was visibly drunk, urinated on him and forced him to lie naked in a puddle of urine with a metal bucket over his head as shocks were administered.

Charles Mutama told United States embassy officials that he was arrested together with Sikhala, lawyer Gabriel Shumba and two others and was tortured for three days.

He was then taken to an undisclosed location where eight persons interrogated him regarding MDC planned demonstrations, beat him with planks, strangled him with wire, attached electrodes to his fingers, toes, tongue and genitals and subjected him to electric shocks lasting about 20 seconds. The interrogation lasted about 6 hours.

One interrogator, who was visibly drunk, urinated on him before forcing him to lie naked in a puddle of urine with a metal bucket over his head as shocks were administered. Mutama said he screamed uncontrollably during the shocks, his voice changing pitch as the voltage increased.

He heard Sikhala's voice and screams in a neighbouring room.

A medical doctor who examined the five certified they had been tortured.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE159, INCREASING GOVERNMENT BRUTALIZATION AND TORTURE OF

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE159

2003-01-23 14:59

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000159

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2013

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: INCREASING GOVERNMENT BRUTALIZATION AND TORTURE OF

POLITICAL OPPONENTS

 

REF: A. HARARE 77

 

B. HARARE 151

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

Summary:

--------

1. (C) The Government of Zimbabwe has intensified its

brutalization of political opponents and is increasing its

reliance on torture as a means of intimidation. On January

16 a court-ordered medical exam revealed that an MDC MP and

four other MDC members had been tortured while in police

custody earlier that week. In response, the prosecutor

declined to pursue the case against the MDC members, but he

was threatened by the CIO, and has quietly inquired about

fleeing to the UK. This comes amidst a number of other cases

of beatings and unlawful arrest of high-profile opposition

figures in the first 3 weeks of the New Year. Ahead of

by-elections in Kuwadzana, and the Cricket World Cup, and in

the midst of crippling food and fuel shortages, the GOZ

appears determined to demonstrate that it remains firmly in

control. End Summary.

 

MDC MP Tortured

---------------

2. (C) On January 14 riot police arrested Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC) MP Job Sikhala, Gabriel Shumba, a

human rights lawyer in the Public Interest Unit of the Legal

Resources Foundation (LRF) (a local legal rights NGO), and

three other MDC members at Nyamutamba Hotel in Chitungwiza.

Suspected CIO agents held and tortured them for three days.

Charles Mutama, an MDC member who was tortured alongside

Sikhala, recounted to Poloff being taken alone on the evening

of January 15 blindfolded from Harare Central Police Station

to an undisclosed location about 45 minutes away by car. He

was taken inside a 20 by 30 foot room where 8 persons

interrogated him regarding MDC planned demonstrations, beat

him with planks, strangled him with wire, attached electrodes

to his fingers, toes, tongue and genitals and subjected him

to electric shocks lasting about 20 seconds. The

interrogation lasted about 6 hours.

 

3. (C) One interrogator, who was visibly drunk, urinated on

him before forcing him to lie naked in a puddle of urine with

a metal bucket over his head as shocks were administered.

Mutama said he screamed uncontrollably during the shocks, his

voice changing pitch as the voltage increased. He said he

heard Sikhala's voice and screams in a neighboring room.

When the five reconvened two days later each realized he had

been subjected to similar torture. Poloff observed burn

marks on Mutama's left 4th finger from the electrode which

was wrapped around it, and cuts around his neck from the

strangling.

 

Torture Medically Confirmed

---------------------------

4. (C) Sikhala wept as he recounted his ordeal in a

magistrate's court on January 15. By the magistrate's order

the five were examined by a medical doctor, who certified

they had been tortured. The five were nevertheless charged

under the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA) with

planning to overthrow the government, and released on bail of

US$20.00 (Z$30,000) each. Though the five must report to

police weekly, the prosecution reportedly does not intend to

pursue the case because of the confirmed torture, and for

lack of evidence.

 

Public Prosecutor Seeks Asylum

-------------------------------

5. (C) On January 20 the lead prosecutor in the Office of

Public Prosecutions in the Ministry of Justice, Thabani

Mpofu, who prosecuted Job Sikhala recently, and several

prominent cases against MDC members in the past year,

approached the British High Commission in Harare seeking

asylum. According to a British diplomat Mpofu has been

informed by friends connected to the CIO several times in the

past year that parties within CIO would like him eliminated

for his lack of vigor in prosecuting MDC members. His

friends had, up until January 20, advised him that they could

handle the agitated parties. On that date, just after MDC MP

Job Sikhala was released, his friends informed him they could

no longer hold off the parties interested in his elimination.

They advised him against going to work or home--he has

complied. The British suggested he might consider going to

South Africa and are making inquiries toward that end.

 

A Poisoning Pattern

-------------------

6. (U) In a public statement, the MDC on January 17

complained that several of its members, including Job

Sikhala, who have been detained by police and suspected CIO

agents in the past several months have been forced to drink

unspecified liquids resulting in severe sickness in three

cases, and death in two cases. The MDC also noted that

former MDC MP for Kuwadzana, Harare, Learnmore Jongwe, died

of chloroquine poisoning while in police custody.

 

Community Leaders Beaten

------------------------

7. (U) On January 14 ZANU-PF youth militia members detained

four officials of the Combined Harare Residents Association

(CHRA)--a USAID grantee--as they were meeting with Harare

residents. The four were taken to a nearby room and beaten

severely with bricks and police style batons for two hours by

suspected CIO members.

 

8. (U) On January 15 MDC activist Farai Makiwa was abducted

from Kuwadzana by ZANU- PF militia and beaten at an office at

the Kuwadzana 5 shopping center.

 

MDC Officials Arrested

----------------------

9. (U) As reported in Ref A, MDC Executive Mayor of Harare

Elias Mudzuri was arrested on January 11 and held for 48

hours along with 20 other councilors and council officials

for hosting a public meeting with constituents in Harare.

Though released, Deputy Mayor Sekesai Makwavara, who suffers

from high blood pressure, is still recovering from the ordeal

at home.

 

10. (U) On January 12, MDC MP Paul Madzore was arrested for

allegedly assaulting two police officers and was beaten while

in custody. On January 20, Paul Madzore's wife, MDC MP and

Shadow Minister of Labor, Pauline Mpariwa, was arrested at

her home in Marimba Park in Harare, held at Harare Central

Prison for reasons that are still unclear, and released

without charge 48 hours later.

 

11. (U) On January 2 MDC MP, Abednico Bhebhe, was arrested in

Bulawayo for putting up posters that read 'Hoot, enough is

enough'. Prosecutors originally sought a conviction under

the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), claiming the

activity could have endangered public safety by inciting

violence. But they eventually dropped the case, reportedly

for lack of evidence.

 

12. (U) From January 19 - 21 seven MDC Mashonaland East

Provincial officials were arrested at their homes. Among

them are Jane Chifamba, Provincial Chair for Mashonaland East

Women's Assembly, Sam Kamudarira, the Provincial Youth Chair,

and Leon Sunday, a member of the province's executive

committee. No charges have been filed against any of the

seven, who were still being held at Marondera Police Station

Criminal Investigations Department on January 21.

 

MDC MP Flees

------------

13. (U) On January 20 the independent Daily News reported

that MDC MP Tafadzwa Musekiwa fled to the UK saying he had

specific information that he was on a government hit list

together with Job Sikhala. Though he has been in the UK for

about two months, he reportedly intends to return to Zimbabwe

soon to prevent the GOZ from calling a by-election for his

constituency, Zengeza in Harare. Musekiwa and Sikhala have

been arrested several times since winning office in 2000.

 

NGOs Condemn Violence

---------------------

14. (U) In public statements on January 20 - 23 the Legal

Resources Foundation (LRF), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human

Rights, the Human Rights NGO Forum, and the Zimbabwe Election

Support Network (ZESN) separately condemned the recent

arrests and tortures and criticized police, particularly the

Law and Order Section, for their involvement. In separate

statements, the organizations called on various parties

including the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs, the

Attorney General, the Police Commissioner, the African

Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, and Interpol to

prosecute the perpetrators, and restore public trust in the

rule of law and the criminal justice system in Zimbabwe.

 

15. (U) Commentators and MDC officials have suggested that

these recent arrests and tortures are part of a GOZ attempt

to quash government critics and any potential anti-Mugabe

mass demonstrations in the run-up to the Cricket World Cup in

Harare in February.

Comment:

--------

16. (C) During the past three years, the Government has

confined its tactics of physical intimidation / harm

primarily to little-known figures who have no way of

defending themselves or of publicizing their victimization.

The GOZ's stepped-up use of torture against higher-profile

figures is a new and troubling development which suggests an

increasing concern about domestic pressure, and dwindling

concern about international opinion.

 

17. (C) The GOZ is likely stepping up its campaign of violent

intimidation now in response to a confluence of

circumstances: the approaching Kuwadzana by-election (Ref B),

the approaching Cricket World Cup, and ordinary peoples'

increasing frustration with food and fuel shortages. The GOZ

appears determined to demonstrate that even in the face of

crippling economic and social hardships, it remains firmly in

control. ZANU-PF is also demonstrating the intent to

maintain its policy of "crushing the MDC" through every means

available. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

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