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Police assault Harare lawyer

Staff Writer

HARARE lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was severely assaulted by police at a police station after surviving an attack by carjackers on Sunday.

rdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>It was the second carjacking attempt Mtetwa survived in a fortnight in Harare. The assault on Mtetwa has provoked widespread condemnation.

The International Bar Association (IBA) on Wednesday wrote to Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, the office of the Attorney-General, and to Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi to register its concern.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe said: “All is lost when lawlessness enters police stations.”

Lawyers have said the development confirms the downward spiral of the country’s institutions of law enforcement and the collapse of the rule of law.

In a statement Mtetwa said she was driving home on Sunday night when a Mazda vehicle overtook her and then stopped in front of her, forcing her car into a ditch. The occupants of the Mazda jumped out and demanded her car keys, a cell phone and some cash, which she gave them.

The carjackers fled as people from neighbouring houses rushed to the scene.

Mtetwa said police officers who attended the scene recognised her and accused her of being drunk.

“I was told that I was being taken to Central Police Station for a breathalyser test,” she said.

“The police were not concerned about my motor vehicle or my fate and I protested at this behaviour and was recording names and offices of all those officers I came into contact with and threatened to report them to the Commissioner. This seemed to incense one of the police details, the one I later learnt is Mutumwa and he started his assault on me.”

Mtetwa added that no breathlyser test was done, and no statement was recorded at the Central Police Station. She said Mutumwa instead continued assaulting her and ordered her back into the police vehicle, which headed for Borrowdale Police Station. Mtetwa says the assault continued in the vehicle and at Borrowdale Police Station.

She says Mutumwa continued to assault her in the charge office at Borrowdale Police Station and she sustained injuries to the head, face, arms, back and thighs.

After leaving the police station she was treated at the Trauma Centre in Harare. On Tuesday she lodged a complaint with the Officer in Charge at Borrowdale Police Station, who allocated the case for investigation.

The incident has shocked the legal fraternity at home and abroad as it comes after the assault on Daily News lawyer Gugulethu Moyo by Jocelyn Chiwenga in June – also at a police station.

The IBA has asked the police to investigate the assault and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The IBA is extremely concerned for the health and safety of lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa and shocked at her appalling treatment at the hands of the police,” IBA president Ambassador Emilio Cardenas said in the letter to Chihuri.

“On behalf of the IBA, I request that you investigate the attacks against her and bring the perpetrators to justice. I would appreciate to be informed about the outcome of your investigations,” he said.

“The conclusion that Mrs Mtetwa was attacked because she is a human rights defender is irresistible,” Law Society president Sternford Moyo said in a statement.

“Attacks on legal practitioners are inimical and indeed repugnant to the interests of the public and the administration of justice,” said Moyo.

“The council of the Law Society condemns the fact that despite the assaults on members of the society taking place as far back as three years ago, most of the relevant offenders have not been brought to justice.

“This does not inspire confidence in the professionalism and commitment of those whose duty it is to ensure law enforcement,” he said. – Staff Writer.

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