Machisa was 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” scheduled for Wednesday.
“They were holding him in cells at the Harare Central Police Station at the CID’s law and order section. It is not yet clear on what charges they are holding him for,” said the information officer who sounded very scared.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) director Irene Petras later told the RadioVOP that the human rights activist had been released without being charged.
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.
The email read; “You enjoy flying in and out of the country demonizing your country, why don’t you go and stay there? They monitor, soon you will all stay out.”
In the email, Machisa was warned that people from Mumunda’s office have been tasked with bringing him down and he should be careful, especially at home.
Although ZimRights reported the threats to Harare Central Police Station no investigations or arrests have been made except to arrest Machisa for planning a photo exhibition.
He also said in November last year, several armed men waited at his home’s gate as he returned from a meeting. They left after he alerted the police and colleagues.
Jena the Regional Chairperson for Mashonaland West, Kaitano the Regional Chairperson for Chitungwiza and Tshuma Zimrights Treasurer were also reported to have received threats from an as unidentified person who claimed to have links with the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
The three received different anonymous messages on their cell phones ordering them to put an end to their work on the constitution making process and threatening them with death.
The messages also asked them about their motives to work within the association. All the messages were sent from the same number which is now unreachable.
Zimrights carries out intensive civic education in the communities and campaigning on the right of people to be involved in the drafting of the new Constitution.
The co-Home Affairs Ministers and the Police Commissioner-General whom ZimRights and influential rights group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) petitioned early this month seeking some guarantees on the safety of Machisa and other threatened human rights defenders have not done anything with regards to secure his security and investigating the threats on his life. ZimRights filed a police report under number IR 030 117.
Movement for Democratic Change leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said recently he was going to have a meeting with the two co-Home Affairs Ministers, Kembo Mohadi of Zanu PF and Giles Mutsekwa of MDC on the allegations of violence he heard from villagers during his recent food assesment tour of the country.