Gukurahundi Artist Released On Bail

Maseko appeared before Bulawayo magistrate, Victor Mpofu, on Tuesday morning and was granted bail and ordered to return to court on 12 April this year for trial.

The courtroom, packed with artistes and civil society activists, turned emotional as artistes hugged each other wiping tears of their faces.

Maseko was arrested while exhibiting pictures of the Gukurahundi massacres at a two day exhibition at the Bulawayo Art Gallery.

He was arrested together with Vote Thebe the manager of the Bulawayo Art Gallery.

Thebe however was not charged and was later released by the police.

Initially the magistrate had deferred passing judgment on the bail application filed by Kucaca Phulu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the lawyer representing Maseko in the case.

Maseko, who spent the weekend in prison, is being charged under section 33 and Section 42 of the Criminal Law Codification (Reform) Act. Under Section 33 Maseko is being charged with insulting and undermining the authority of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Clause 42 of the Act says anyone causing prejudice on religion and creed shall be guilty of the offence.

Police have ordered the Bulawayo Art Gallery to cover the paintings with newspapers so that they remain out of the public view.

The police raid of Bulawayo Art Gallery and arrest of Maseko and Thebe came just a day after police swooped on Harare Art gallery and forced shut down of a photo exhibition of the 2008 political violence.  Zimbabwe Human Rights (ZimRights) director director, Okay Machisa was arrested in connection with the exhibition was later released at the orders of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

The Mugabe led government unleashed the North Korean trained Five Brigade soldiers into Matabeleland to deal with what it called the dissident menace. However the Five Brigade, which was deployed to Matebeleland and the Midlands provinces unleashed terror and killed over 30 000 people.