Geneva, 1st October 2004
1.22.2.Mr. Bennett’s arrests in August and September 2002
In September 2002, Mr. Bennett was arrested while attending a polling station in the rural district council elections. The CIO reportedly directed police to arrest him after he had raised concerns over voting irregularities. Mr. Bennett said that he was held three nights in detention and that his lawyer was chased away. He was kicked by police officers wearing boots. He was forced from his cell and taken to another station where he was again interrogated, beaten and accused of being a “British puppet”. Mr. Bennett said that he was finally charged with taking pictures. The matter proceeded to trial and he was acquitted. A medical report, dated 2 October 2002, was provided to the delegation which attests that the injuries observed were consistent with Mr. Bennett’s testimony of being violently kicked.
According to the police memorandum of April 2004, on 28 September 2002, Mr. Bennett, together with two other persons, was forcibly entering a polling station where council elections were in progress. They started to shoot video clips while voting was under way without having sought permission from the Returning Officer. He was acquitted of this charge on 20 December 2002.
According to the police memorandum, Mr. Bennett’s arrest on 22 August 2002 was for defying Section 8 of the Land Acquisition Act. He was detained in police cells and, according to police, did not want to leave the police cells to be taken to court. He feared that he would be taken to an unknown place and assaulted. He was acquitted in court.
It should be noted that Mr. Bennett is the fourth generation of the family living in Zimbabwe. He has no other home. There are only 6 white families in his constituency. More than 11,000 electors voted him in.
2.Information provided by police on the situation of MPs concerned with whom the delegation did not meet or who had died
2.1.The Committee’s concern in this case related to the beating up of Mr. Mutendadzamera and his family members by the police in October 2000. In the police memorandum of April 2004, the incident is placed in the context of riots which took place at the time in Harare. On 17 October 2000, Mr. Mutendadzamera made a complaint at Mabvuku police station alleging that some police officers and soldiers had broken into his house and assaulted him. The police instituted investigations and all police officers and soldiers who were deployed in the region were called for an identification parade. However, Justin Mutendadzamera who was invited by police to assist police in identifying the culprits, flatly refused to do so and even refused to give a detailed statement of the incident to the investigating officer. Police therefore closed the file.
This contradicts entirely the version of events the Committee has on file, according to which the police denied Mr. Mutendadzamera’s request to be allowed to identify the culprits. The delegation was unable to clarify this matter.
2.2.Police reported that Mr. Mutendadzamera had two cases pending against him, one for common assault which dates back to March 2000. On 20 March 2000, at about 9 p.m., MDC supporters kidnapped a ZANU-PF supporter, Romeo Tugwe, whom they took to Mr. Mutendadzamera’s house where they teamed up with him and assaulted Romeo Tugwe. The latter was rescued only after members of the public had tipped off police. Mr. Mutendadzamera was arrested and the matter was still pending at court.
The second case pending against him also concerns a kidnapping which occurred one day later, on 21 March at the same time. Mr. Mutendadzamera and others reportedly kidnapped another ZANU-PF supporter and took him to Mr. Mutendadzamera’s house where they beat him up. They then bundled him into the boot of Mr. Mutendadzamera’s car and intended to dump him along the way. They were disturbed by a bus crew who rescued the complainant and managed to arrest some of the accused persons, among them (apparently) Mr. Mutendadzamera. The accused benefited from Presidential Clemency Order 1/2000.
2.2.1.Arrest on February 2002