Zimbabwe MP 'tortured by security services' could now be charged for joining anti-hunger protest

Zimbabwean opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa (centre) speaks with journallists gathered outside a private hospital in Harare on May 15, 2020, where three youth leaders from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance were admitted after allegedly being abducted and beaten up by police and eventually dumped along the roadside some ways from the capital city. – JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP

Zimbabwean opposition MP and two activists allegedly abducted from an anti-hunger rally and tortured by security services last week could now be charged for joining the unauthorised protest, a senior minister suggested.” data-reactid=”17″>A Zimbabwean opposition MP and two activists allegedly abducted from an anti-hunger rally and tortured by security services last week could now be charged for joining the unauthorised protest, a senior minister suggested.

MDC Alliance, and two of the party’s youth leaders, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri – disappeared from the spontaneous food poverty rally in Harare on Wednesday, prompting the MDC Alliance to issue statements of concern about their whereabouts.” data-reactid=”18″>The three women – Joanne Mamombe, 27, an MP for the opposition MDC Alliance, and two of the party’s youth leaders, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri – disappeared from the spontaneous food poverty rally in Harare on Wednesday, prompting the MDC Alliance to issue statements of concern about their whereabouts.

They were admitted to hospital two days later – where they remain – saying they had been arrested, beaten and sexually abused.

Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe released a statement late on Sunday saying the police would hold a full-scale investigation into the incident.

But he added that the demonstration the women had attended was “illegal”. 

“It violated the lockdown regulations. There was no social distancing. No stone would be left unturned with a view to finding out exactly what happened. This inquiry will also include the way the story was covered in the media,” he said.

Doctors attending to the women say they are still too traumatised to answer police questions.

Joanne Mamombe, an MDC Alliance MP, lying on a hospital bed  – JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP

But in a video filmed in hospital by political colleagues, Ms Mamombe alleges that the three were taken to Harare Central Police Station, and were then driven to a small town about 50 miles west of the capital. She said they were shoved in a pit and tortured.

Sobbing and shaking in her hospital bed, Ms Mamombe said they were ordered to march and sing, that they were beaten, and she was forced to drink one of the other women’s urine. The MDC Alliance later said she was also made to eat faeces.

Ms Chimbiri, also shaking and weeping, said from her hospital bed that the “state agent was suckling my breasts,” and shoved a gun “up my anal passage.”

State spokesman Nick Mangwana said the alleged ordeal was “a diversionary tactic. A poorly choreographed attempt to throw a curved ball at the system.

“But you can’t fool people by playing the same scene many times over and expect to successfully pull wool over their eyes.”   

Dr Norman Matara, a private GP in Harare who is also a member of the Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights, said the women have had medical examinations and that two of them cannot yet walk unaided.

“They are being treated for injuries and they have been seen by a consultant psychiatrist. We will have to wait until they are stabilised before they can answer any questions from the police. We will then also call in state doctors for a comprehensive assessment,” he said.  

He said the women, who are in a small private hospital, are being guarded by the police and visited by their families twice a day.

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