A magistrate in the eastern Zimbabwe provincial capital of Mutare on Monday freed the brother of the director of the Center for Research and Development, which police raided late last week in apparent connection with its reporting on abuses in the controversial Marange diamond field of Manicaland province.
Magistrate Enia Ndiraya set bail of US$20 for Lisben Maguwu, brother of Center for Research and Development Director Farai Maguwu, remanding him to June 14 to face charges of obstructing justice. Authorities sought to detain Farai Maguwu for questioning last Thursday, but could not find him and arrested Lisben Maguwu instead.
Police said Lisben prevented them from arresting Maguwu, wanted in connection with a report he issued last week in which it was alleged that thousands of carats of diamonds were being smuggled out of Marange daily.
Police moved to arrest Maguwu soon after he met with Kimberly Process Certification Scheme Zimbabwe monitor Abbey Chikane in Mutare last week. Maguwu remained in hiding this week, sources said.
Prosecutor Simon Chabuka told the court that Lisben, 24, obstructed justice by preventing the police from arresting Maguwu last Thursday. But he did not explain how he did that.
Representing Lisben was Peter Tandiri, who stepped in to represent Lisben Maguwu after Blessing Nyamaropa, a member of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who was initially representing Maguwu, went into hiding after being harassed and threatened by police upon making inquiries about his client.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Zimbabwe Peace Project and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition have condemned the alleged abuses by Chief Superintendent Crispen Makedenge and Detective Inspector Henry Dowa.
Nyamaropa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that such police actions are intended to prevent human rights defenders from representing people who are considered enemies of the state.