Mutare Magistrates court has ended the horrible detention of more than 10 Chiadzwa villagers in Manicaland province, who were subjected to horrendous torture and assault, when they were arrested recently by a joint crack team of Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).
The 11 Chiadzwa villagers namely Daniel Nyazika, Midia Nyazika, Tinashe Nyazika, Mike Nyazika, Gift Nyazika, Crispen Mashande, Neyemai Chibuwe, Manuel Zvirimumoyo, Darlington Mwarumba, Albert Mudzimwa and Michel Chidzungu of Chingome village under Chief Marange in Manicaland province, were arrested by ZRP officers and ZNA members stationed at Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company on Sunday 15 January 2023 at Nyazika Bottle Store.
They were charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly causing the escape of 32 people, who were accused of being illegal diamond panners and who had been arrested in a liquor retail shop.
The Chiadzwa villagers appeared before Mutare Magistrate Richard Ramaboea on Wednesday 18 January 2023 after spending time in detention first at Diamond Police Base and later on at Bambazonke Police Station, where they spent two nights.
During their initial remand appearance, prosecutors told Magistrate Ramaboea that the 11 villagers teamed up and challenged members of the Joint Operations Committee (JOC) comprising of ZRP officers and ZNA members, who were executing an operation to secure diamond fields.
Representing the villagers, Peggy Tavagadza and Kelvin Kabaya of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, complained before Magistrate Ramaboea that their clients were heavily assaulted upon arrest by ZRP officers and ZNA members, who caused extensive damage to doors of the liquor shop and also smashed some vehicle windscreens.
The villagers, Tavagadza and Kabaya said, were also over-detained beyond 48 hours before being brought to court for their initial remand proceedings and were denied access to medical facilities for treatment of injuries sustained from the assault by law enforcement agents.
In response, Magistrate Ramaboea ordered the State represented by Chris Munyukwi to investigate the villagers’ complaints against ZRP and ZNA and to submit a report to him on 8 February 2023, when they return to court.