The Zimbabwean police upped the stakes Tuesday in a crackdown following the death Sunday of a policeman in a clash with alleged members of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, saying they want capital punishment to be imposed on the person found responsible for the crime.
Police Inspector Petros Mutedza died after he was hit over the head with a chair during a clash between police and patrons of a bar in the Glen View 3 shopping center to which police had gone to break up a suspected MDC meeting. The shopping center is in the populous Harare suburb of Glen View, which is an MDC stronghold.
The party has said its members had nothing to do with the policeman's death.
Sources said authorities have constituted a investigative unit combining members of the police and the Central Intelligence Organization.
Tsvangirai MDC sources said about 30 members of the party have been arrested since the incident this weekend. They said lawyers have been denied access to clients.
Police sources charged that MDC youths kicked and stoned Mutedza as he lay unconscious after being struck with a chair.
Doctors pronounced Mutedza dead on arrival at Harare Central Hospital. The unruly mob reportedly dispersed after hearing that police reinforcements were on the way.
Mutedza was officer-in-charge for administration at the Borrowdale Police Station, and also officer-in-charge of the Harare provincial reaction group.
Another police officer injured in the clash was said to be out of danger.
Police sources said the skirmishes that led to the fatal clash were sparked by an illegal meeting organized by the MDC in Glen View. Sources said police went there to disperse the crowd, which led to the outbreak of violence.
Sources said MDC youths were accustomed to gather informally in front of the Munyarari Nightclub at the shopping center, which is a local terminus for commuter omnibuses.
Police Superintendent Andrew Phiri confirmed on Monday that MDC supporters had been picked up, but on Tuesday said no one had been arrested.
Phiri told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police bade farewell to their colleague Tuesday afternoon in Harare. Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the crackdown on activists continues.
Lawyer Marufu Mandevere told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that police were frustrating his efforts to see the MDC supporters who had been arrested.