Abuse of state power by state security agents, disregard of court orders by the police, harassment of lawyers, intimidation of opposition and civic society activists continued unabated in May as is shown by this report.
Of note in May was the arrest of human rights lawyers Andrew Makoni and Alec Muchadehama by the police in Harare. A number of charges were laid against them but more importantly the charges were related to the MDC members whom they were defending. The incarcerated MDC members were being accused of taking part in the spate of countrywide petrol bombings at police stations from January to April 2007.
Following the lawyers’ arrest, the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) decided to petition the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to express disapproval at their illegal detention. The demonstrating lawyers were dispersed outside the High Court in Harare with brute force by police officers some of whom were armed but all of whom wielded baton sticks. The police also took away 5 prominent lawyers, including the President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Beatrice Mtetwa and dumped them near Eastlea, a Harare suburb, but not before they had savagely assaulted and tortured them.
The police continued to disrupt demonstrations by the NCA in May. Moreover, there has been resurgence in the harassment and brutalisation of student leaders from higher and tertiary education institutions in Zimbabwe. Of concern is the collusion by the different University security officers and members of the ZRP. Cases that were reported in May to the Human Rights Forum reportedly revealed that the University security officers were responsible for apprehending the student leaders, assaulting and then handing them over to the police where they are in most cases tortured in police custody.