Zimbabwean detectives on Monday raided the offices of a non-governmental organization responsible for counseling violence and torture victims, confiscating what authorities say are “offensive and subversive materials”.
The 10 policemen, who were led by Detective Assistant Henry Dowa and Assistant Inspector Murira, also took away computers from the Counseling Services Unit (CSU) after arresting program manager Fidelis Mudimu and colleagues Zachariah Godi, Penn Bruno, Tafadzwa Gesa, James Zidzimu and Daily News photojournalist Watson Ofumeli.
Bruno, Zidzimu and Ofumeli were later released while the others remained in custody overnight at the Harare Central Police station.
They are being charged for allegedly defacing an information center donated to the Bulawayo community by former Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.
Kennedy Masiye, one of the lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights representing the employees, told VOA the officers were armed with a search warrant that alleged the organization was in possession of subversive material that contravenes Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Police have been using the Act to raid independent organizations. In August, detectives twice raided the offices of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, accusing them of being in possession of information and materials that promoted homosexuality.
The police argued that the materials were for distribution purposes to promote homosexuality in the country.
According to its website, the CSU says it provides medical and psychological care for victims of organized violence and torture besides working for the total elimination of torture in Zimbabwe.
Interview With Kennedy Masiye