Harare (Agenzia Fides) - "We are deeply concerned about the episodes of violence and arrests against lawyers who were doing their duty to assist their clients", states the Association of Catholic Lawyers in Zimbabwe after the arrest of two lawyers for human rights on September 4th.
Douglas Coltart and Tapiwa Muchineripi were arrested after asking police not to question two of their clients who were admitted to hospital. The clients, Womberaishe Nhende and Sonele Mukhuhlani, militants from the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party, said they had been kidnapped, tortured and drugged on September 2 by people they suspected were state agents. The two men were forcibly pulled out from their car by unknown gunmen, handcuffed, beaten with batons and tasers, and injected with "an unknown substance" before being thrown naked near a river.
The two lawyers passed on to the police the doctors' recommendations on their clients' clinical conditions and their ability to be subjected to interrogation. Coltart and Muchineripi, who were released on $100 bail each, are scheduled to appear in court on October 20 to determine the legality of the obstruction of justice charges. "This latest episode – underlines the Association of Catholic Lawyers – follows the attack on two other lawyers Kudzai Kadzere and Obey Shava". Kadzere was attacked by members of the police force in Budiriro, Harare, on January 14 while he was providing legal assistance to 25 CCC members. Obey Shava, was severely beaten on July 5 by four unidentified assailants. He too defended CCC militants. Precisely on September 4, President Emmerson Mnangagwa took the oath of office after winning the disputed presidential elections on 26 August (see Fides, 1/9/2023). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 8/9/2023)