Police Inch Closer To Prosecuting GALZ Leader

According to a search warrant issued by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) authorising the raid on GALZ premises, the police charge that Samba committed an offence by handing out some pamphlets and fliers encouraging the practice of homosexuality in Zimbabwe at a meeting held at his Milton Park offices early this month.

“From information on oath, there are reasonable grounds for believing that there is in the possession or under the control of Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe situated at number 35 Colenbrander road in Milton Park pamphlets and fliers with information that promotes homosexuality for distribution or upon on in Milton Park certain articles that is to say: In that on the 10th day of August 2012, the accused unlawfully and intentionally distributed pamphlets and fliers with information that promotes homosexuality,” reads part of the search warrant seen by Radio VOP.

Police, who raided the GALZ offices on Monday seized some property from the organisation’s offices after breaking in and rummaged through the offices of the organisation, which were locked. The police confiscated computers, Digital Versatile Discs, pamphlets, compact discs and various documents.

The raid and seizure of the GALZ computers and other materials comes barely a fortnight after the police raided and arrested 44 GALZ members early this month at the organisation’s offices during the launch of the GALZ Violations Report and Briefing of the second draft Zimbabwe Constitution. The GALZ members were detained for a night before being released without preferring any charges against them.

In July, police summoned Samba for allegedly undermining the authority of or insulting President Robert Mugabe in contravention of Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Samba was interrogated over the operations of his organisation.

The police claimed that in 2010 GALZ displayed a plaque of former San Francisco Mayor Willie Lewis Brown, Jr in their office in which the African-American denounces President Mugabe’s homophobia against gays and lesbians. These charges were initially pressed against two GALZ employees Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Mhambi when they were arrested in 2010 but they were never prosecuted on these charges.

The two GALZ employees, who stood trial for allegedly possessing pornographic pictures in contravention of Section 26(1) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act (Chapter10:04) were acquitted in 2010.

Meanwhile African Civil Society Groups on Tuesday condemned the harassment and intimidation of GALZ members.

“We are gravely concerned about the gross violation of human rights of GALZ members to be free from arbitrary arrest, torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment,” the African Civil Society Groups said.

“The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) and its partners have learned with concern that, following the assault and arbitrary detention of 44 members of GALZ at Harare Central Police Station on 11 August as they convened to launch the GALZ LGBTI Rights Violations Report 2011 and to disseminate information regarding the contents of the second draft Zimbabwe Constitution, the organisation’s offices were again raided on 20 August, 2012.”

“This intimidation and harassment of civil society organisations, their staff and partners in Zimbabwe by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police is unconstitutional and wholly unacceptable.”

The civic groups said in a democratic society, assembling to launch a report on human rights violations perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex people, and the dissemination of information regarding the contents of the second draft Zimbabwe Constitution should be encouraged.

African civil society organisations who agreed on the statement are the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, Centre for the Study of AIDS, University of Pretoria, Blue Diamond Society, Kathmandu, Nepal, the Centre for the Development of People, Malawi, Mozambican Treatment Access Movement,  Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign, Zambia, African Services Committee, Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS, Maritime Life Precious Foundation, Ghana, International Rectal Microbicide Advocates and Uganda Health and Science Press Association.