Friday, September 22, 2006

The 9-13 revolt


By all accounts the police were out in full force the following morning, on September 13, cordoning off downtown Harare with their heavy presence and thus effectively rendering it impossible for any citizen, however aggrieved or determined, to assemble, let alone march, in any predetermined direction.

The demonstration started around 1pm with people singing and dancing in the street. "It was over in seconds," says an MDC member, one of those arrested. "The demonstrators were ordered to sit down and then the riot police went beserk. They beat the people so viciously and brutally it was a terrible and shocking spectacle to witness."

The arrested were loaded onto trucks and conveyed, some to Harare Central and others to the notorious Matapi Police Station. The latter facility has been condemned by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe as being totally unfit for human habitation. A police officer at Matapi allegedly informed the arrested ZCTU leaders on arrival: "We are not trained to write dockets; we are trained to kill".

It is alleged the arrested were "then taken two at a time into a room and brutally beaten by five men with knobkerries and long baton sticks for up to 20 minutes."

In both stations the prisoners were:

Denied access to legal practitioners

Subjected to brutal and savage torture and beating in Matapi Police Station

Denied access to relatives

Not supplied with food or water

Not supplied with blankets

Mostly kept in darkness.

Subjected to extremely abusive language

Forced to make do with toilets that were overflowing with human excreta.

The older among them must have been reminded of the fate of political detainees during Ian Smith's Rhodesia. Late that night the Matapi contingent was moved to Harare Central.

"It was a pitiful sight to see those 14 physically and mentally battered and brutalised figures appearing," says the MDC member. "Three could hardly walk or stand."...

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