HARARE – Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere says female party activists seized during a police raid in Budiriro weekend have complained of being sexually harassed by some uncouth police officers while in custody.
Mahere said this Monday when the 25 activists, who include Gweru legislator Amos Chibaya, were presented to court for allegedly contravening Section 37 of the Criminal Codification and Reform Act which prohibits participation in “an illegal gathering for purposes of promoting or inciting public violence”.
The activists were Saturday raided by police at Harare legislator Costa Machingauta’s home and bundled into police trucks accused of holding an unsanctioned meeting.
CCC insists its members were merely holding a private meeting which is a right guaranteed by the country’s laws.
The arrested lot included a 17-year-old girl who was Monday released in the custody of her guardian.
The rest were left to fight for their freedom through bail application whose hearing continues this Tuesday.
Mahere said activists were complaining about being sexually harassed by police.
“Several concerning issues were raised by lawyers including the fact that a minor girl was part of the arrested 25 and the fact that the police officers also were manhandling women,” she told journalists.
“There were complaints about inappropriate sexual harassment of the police officers who were allegedly drunk and sprinkling alcohol on the accused persons.”
She added, “What this demonstrates beyond any doubt is that there is nothing legal about the arrest, it was calculated to politically persecute our members.”
Meanwhile, international and local independent media were barred from covering the court appearance with only two state media reporters granted the right to watch court proceedings from the gallery.
The incident was condemned by journalist representative groups as an act of open discrimination against the media