Arrested Zim Pastors Freed

Ailing Shakespeare Mukoyi was detained overnight in grubby police cells at Harare Central Police Station on further charges of assaulting a police officer. The police recorded a warned and cautioned statement from Mukoyi on Tuesday in the presence of his lawyer Marufu Mandevere of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, who is a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

By lunchtime on Tuesday, the police had not yet taken Mukoyi to court as they were reportedly waiting to be furnished with medical affidavits detailing the injuries sustained by the police officer who
was allegedly assaulted by Mukoyi.

Mukoyi and 13 other congregants were arrested by anti-riot police on Saturday during a church service organised to pray for peace in Glen Norah. But one juvenile was released after the arrest on Saturday before the police freed 12 congregants on Monday night on summons. One of the pastors paid an admission of guilt fine.

The prayer meeting was part of the Save Zimbabwe campaign to remember the brutal assault of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists and senior party officers including Morgan Tsvangirai on March 11, 2007. An MDC district leader Gift Tandare was shot dead by the police during the incident.

Harare lawyer Marufu Mandevere said Tuesday that the parishioners, who had refused to pay fines claiming they had no case to answer, were later released Monday night on summons.

“They were released yesterday evening on summons. This basically means they are now free. Police saw that the charges that they were giving them were not going to stick and refrained from taking them to court contrary to what they had said before,” said Mandevere.

“In fact, if there were any public violence charges, it is the police who should have been accused because they (police) attacked a church gathering where they found people worshipping and started throwing teargas to disperse them.”