Police arrested four Pastors and 10 other worshippers including a 15-year-old juvenile who attended the prayer meeting. The Pastors are Paul Mukome, Caroline Sanyanga, Paul Isaah Yesah and one only identified as Nemukuyu. All the pastors except Mukome refused refused to pay the fines for being “a criminal nuisance in a public place”. The other rest of the worshippers also followed suit.
The juvenile was released.
Human rights lawyer Marufu Mandevere, who is representing them, told Radio VOP on Monday evening that the group opted to spend their third night in the police cell and wait for court the next morning.
“They have refused to pay fines. They are adamant that they are not criminals and would not want to spoil their records by these trumped up criminal charges.”
He described the police action as high-handedness.
Meanwhile, the Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation has condemned the police attack on innocent parishioners.
The pastors and others were arrested when button wielding police stormed the Church of Nazareth in Harare’s Glen Norah suburb and threw choking tear smoke inside the church to disperse the worshippers. Frightened parishioners, among them old women and children were forced to break through the church’s windows while trying to escape the menacing police. Also caught in the melee was the blind Pastor Ancelimo Magaya.
They were detained in filthy police cells at Glen Norah Police station before being transferred to Harare Central Police Station on Sunday. On Sunday Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights member lawyers, Mandevere of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners and Gift Mtisi of Musendekwa, Mtisi Legal Practitioners, were denied access to their clients at Glen Norah Police station despite numerous requests to be able to interview their clients.
One of the detainees Shakespeare Mukoyi was brutally assaulted by police officers in the church building in Glen Norah before being taken to the police station. Since then, Shakespeare has been denied access to full medication after undergoing an X-ray examination which determined the need for urgent treatment.
Police allegedly took him to Harare Hospital during the night on Saturday, where he was attended to
briefly before he was unceremoniously seized from the hospital where the X-ray examination was being undertaken and re-detained at Harare Central Police Station holding cells despite the fact that he was in intense pain, with a swollen head, red left eye, left swollen palm and was finding it very difficult to walk without assistance.
On Sunday, when Mukoyi’s lawyers were allowed access to interview him they indicated to the police officers that their client was in serious pain and could not walk as a result of the injuries he sustained from the assault by the police. Mukoyi was then once again taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital where he was again examined. He was taken back to the police cells after the Doctor indicated that he was not supposed to be admitted to hospital as the X ray taken did not show any injuries.
The church service was organised by a coalition of churches under the theme “Saving Zimbabwe….the unfinished journey”. The church service was aimed at presenting an opportunity to pray for peace in Zimbabwe as part of the process of finishing the journey to save the country.
It was also meant to commemorate the events of the 11 March 2007 Save Zimbabwe Prayer Meeting, where one activist Gift Tandare was shot dead while over 100 political and human rights activists were arrested, tortured and detained through similar heavy-handedness by police.