MDC detainees badly hurt, say protesters

2009-02-19 00:00

Disgruntled members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) protested outside the Durban City Hall to voice their concern over what it called the "unlawful" arrest of its members in Zimbabwe.

Dressed in white T-shirts, 15 protestors handed over a memorandum to city officials outlining their concerns, which include the detention of 27 MDC members at the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare.

The detainees include MDC Treasurer and deputy minister of Agriculture, Roy Bennett and Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko.

Other prominent detainees are three activists said to be in serious need of medical attention due to injuries sustained in prison - Fidelis Chiramba, Gandhi Mudzingwa and Kisimusi Dhlamini. The three are alleged to have recruited teenagers to undergo military training or bombed police stations.

Chiramba is the chairman of an MDC branch in Zimbabwe and is suffering from a serious heart condition. Mudzingwa, a personal assistant to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was abducted in December and has high blood pressure.

Dhlamini's legs may have to be amputated after the soles of his feet were beaten, a popular form of torture with Zimbabwean police, said the protesters.

Nhamo Chikowore, an MDC member in KwaZulu-Natal, said the protesters demand the immediate release of all opposition political detainees in line with the agreement leading to the formation of the government of national unity, which was sworn in last week.

He said the abductions and the unlawful detention of MDC members are taking place daily.

"We are here today to make sure that our message goes to world leaders so that we can resolve this matter peacefully," he said. "We want his agreement to come to fruition."

The protestors dispersed after an hour. No incidents were reported.

Protests are also planned in Johannesburg and Cape Town later this week.

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