Police arrest Tsvangirai’s drivers over beacon lights

2011-02-15 07:00

Harare – Two of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s drivers had been detained by police for four days for having blue beacon lights in two government vehicles, officials said today.

Observers say the arrests by security authorities loyal to President Robert Mugabe are meant to challenge the authority of Tsvangirai, with whom Mugabe has shared an uneasy governing coalition over the past two years.

The detentions follow a wave of violence against Tsvangirai supporters ahead of elections later this year promised by Mugabe.

Tsvangirai’s spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka, said the drivers were arrested at a border post when the blue beacon lights were found upon their return from South Africa with two Toyota Prados that had just been fitted with an upgraded siren system.

The two cars are usually used to escort the premier’s Mercedes-Benz limousine.

The drivers’ lawyer, Kossam Ncube, said the lights had not been fitted, but were in their boxes on the back seats of the vehicles.

But the men were charged with driving vehicles fitted with beacon lights.

Prosecutors argued that they could only be used by police, the army or vehicles escorting the president, Tamborinyoka said.
Prosecutors also claimed in court that the two men were a threat to national security.

“It’s deliberate harassment. The charges are ridiculous,” Tamborinyoka said, noting that police, customs and state security officials had all been involved in the arrests. 

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