Police Moves To Shut The Gay and Lesbian Office

Detectives at the Law and Order Section at the Harare Central Police Station on Thursday charged GALZ, which was represented by Martha Tholanah, the organisation’s co-chairperson with running an “unregistered” organisation in contravention of Section 6 (iii) of the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act.

The police, who alleged that GALZ had commenced operations in Zimbabwe without registering its operations under the PVO Act, released Tholanah, who had since Tuesday been a regular guest at Harare Central Police Station in the company of his lawyers Dzimbabwe Chimbga, Tonderai Bhatasara, Marufu Mandevere and Jeremiah Bamu from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and advised the GALZ co-chairperson that they would proceed by way of summons.

The move by the police is the latest attack on Non- Governmental Organisations (NGO)’s by the coalition government, which in recent months has been harassing human rights defenders and NGO’s ahead of a constitutional referendum and planned general elections.

Last month, two police officers only identified as Sergeant Ndawana and Detective Chipwanya summoned Abel Chikomo, the executive director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, to stand trial at the Harare Magistrates Court after charging him with running an “unregistered” organisation in contravention of the PVO Act.

However, the trial did not commence after State prosecutor, Innocent Chingarande, withdrew summons issued against Chikomo after he advised that the State was not ready to proceed with the matter.

Meanwhile, it has since emerged that an unidentified member of the Zimbabwe National Army on Tuesday raided the premises of the (GALZ), a day after more than 20 police officers from the Zimbabwe Republic Police swooped on the organisation’s offices in Milton Park suburb, Harare.

A soldier, who was dressed in military attire and was in the company of two plain clothed people visited the GALZ offices on Tuesday afternoon and patrolled the organisation’s premises.

After the team failed to find anything of interest to them they went through the caretaker’s occurrence book and recorded details of people who had visited the GALZ premises in the past few months. One of them inadvertently left his mobile phone number, which was recorded by the caretaker.