The Judge’s ruling came as the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition also announced it was seeking an urgent meeting with Jacob Zuma to discuss the continued harrassment of Zimbabwe’s civic society members by police or state agents.
Police officers on Tuesday briefly detained Zimrights director Okay Machisa and confiscated the pictures which were meant to be showcased at Gallery Delta in Harare in an exhibition entitled “Reflectios” in commemoration of the victims of the 2008 political violence.
Machisa was later released after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai intervened. Tsvangirai was also expected to officially open the photo exhibition that showcases grisly images from the violent June 27 2008 elections.
The application which was hear in the Judge’s Chambers was meant to facilitate the release of the pictures to ensure that the photo exhibition to go ahead as planned.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) director Irene Petras said they had won the case and the police had been given one hour to return the pictures.
Petras said the application challenged the unjustifiable attempt by police to prevent the launch from taking place on Wednesday. She said the threats to prefer criminal charges against Machisa have no basis at law.
“We got an order that the police should return of 65 pictures within one hour from the granting of the order. The order also stipulates that the police should not interfere with the launch tonight,” said Petras soon after receiving the order.
The exhibition intends to show images of broken limbs, burnt buttocks and other gory photos of people maimed and attacked by soldiers and Zanu PF elections during the shammed presidential second round election.
Machisa was on Tuesday arrested at the Gallery Delta in central Harare, where some ZimRights officials were working on putting the pictures on the walls in preparation for the exhibition entitled “Reflections”.
The police however seized the exhibition pictures and told Machisa to give a seven day notice of his intention to hold the exhibition to the police.
The arrest of Machisa comes barely a month after he received a threatening email from a person claiming to be Dzapasi Mumunda. His colleagues Nunurai Jena, Netsai Kaitano and Jabulisa Tshuma also received threatening calls.
Meanwhile the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition national co-ordinator McDonald Liwanika told journalists in Harare that his organisation was seeking an urgent meeting with Zimbabwe’s mediator, Jacob Zuma.
“We have our South African office which we have given the task of directing our appeal, but here in Zimbabwe we are still in the efforts of trying to meet the South African Embassy, and appointments with the Ambassodor are being made as we are speaking.
“We have been engaging the police, Home Affairs Ministry over these issues and we all know the position of our security forces here that they are resisting reforms and we have thought it wise to alert the Southern African Development Community (SADC) over these serious issues that are threatening democracy in this country.”
An estimated 200 Movement for Democratic Change supporters and activists were believed to have been killed. Thousands others were displaced from their homes.
Trade unionist and Secretary-General of the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), Getrude Hambira was also forced into hiding due to fears for her safety.
Hambira together with the workers union’s leadership were summoned by the dreaded Joint Operations Command (JOC) and were taken to task over a documentary entitled “House of Justice” and a report titled “If something is wrong” documenting the brutality surrounding the land reform programme. GAPWUZ leaders were warned that if the report and documentary were ever used or presented to the SADC Tribunal, GAPWUZ would be held accountable.
At the same period police in Mutare arrested and detained three Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) employees, who were attending the union’s Regional Women’s Advisory Council’s civil and legal training in the eastern border city for five hours.
The police and some non state actors such as ZANU PF youths have also intensified their crackdown on journalists.
Freelance photojournalist Andrison Manyere has since January been either seized or arrested three times during the course of his legitimate work. Besides Manyere, another freelance journalist Stanley Kwenda fled the country after he was allegedly phoned and threatened with death by a senior police officer.
Zimbabwe’s civil society organizations have called on the government and in particular the Home Affairs co-ministers Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa to guarantee their safety in the wake of an increased number of threats, intimidation and harassment leveled against human rights defenders over the past three months.