Zimbabwean police in Nyamayendlovu district of Matabeleland North province Tuesday detained for a second night two officials of a rights organization they barred on Monday from conducting a public lecture on torture and human rights in Tsholotsho.
Lawyers for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association officials, Florence Ndlovu and Walter Dube, who have been denied access to their clients, said the Bulawayo magistrate court had approved the meeting after an initial dispute with police.
But the police nonetheless barred the meeting on Monday and arrested the two activists at a roadblock as they returned to the city of Bulawayo, the lawyers said. Zimrights condemned the arrest, accusing the police of unlawfully blocking the meeting.
Defender Lizwe Jamela told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamil Nkomo that the arrest is a clear abuse of power by the Matabeleland police. "The two were armed with a court order to go ahead with the meeting, but the police would not have any of it," he said.
Zimbabwe has seen an upswing in arrests of human rights activists including prominent Matabeleland activist Paul Siwela, jailed since March and reportedly ill.
Healing Minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu was also arrested last month in Matabeleland North after addressing a meeting on the killings of civilians in the province by the Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwean army during the so-called Gukurahundi purge of the 1980s.