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Interview: ‘Zim a big prison, abuse now normalised’ – NewsDay

Kudzayi Kadzere

Human rights lawyer Kudzayi Kadzere (KK) now walks around wearing a plaster cast on his right arm after being reportedly assaulted by anti-riot police officers in Harare last week.

Kadzere, who is among human rights lawyers representing leaders and supporters of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), says his assault by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers on January 14, 2023, is part of a pattern of abuse that has been normalised in Zimbabwe. Following are excerpts from his chat with Legal Monitor (LM).

LM: May you tell us what happened?

KK: I received a distress call on Saturday January 14, 2023, in my capacity as a human rights lawyer to attend to 25 residents of Budiriro, who had been arrested for an unclear charge at a meeting at the local legislator’s house.

I was about 200 metres from the police station when I was waylaid and ambushed by a truckload of police officers who disembarked, accosted me and accused me of taking pictures and videos of them.

I identified myself as a legal practitioner on duty and told them that I was attending to my clients, but they would have none of it.

They immediately started assaulting me, dragged me out of the vehicle and used baton sticks, boots and sjamboks on me. They threw me into their lorry and continued assaulting me. They drove the truck into Budiriro Police Station, where they continued to assault me.

When they ordered me to disembark from the police truck, one of them struck me again and I lost my balance. I was taken to the charge office and eventually released after four hours despite protestations that I needed medical attention because I had suffered a fractured arm and severe bruises.

I was seen by some doctors who injected drugs to stabilise me and I went for an X-ray before seeing specialist doctors, who recommended that I go for surgery of which I eventually did. I underwent surgery on my right hand and doctors placed wires on my wrist to stabilise it.

I have been put on a plaster and on painkillers. I was charged with criminal nuisance and escaping from lawful custody. I was re-arrested at Harare Central Police Station when I was trying to make a report on the brutality that I experienced. It did not make sense because I was the victim in all this.

LM: Is this the first time you have been treated badly by police officers or other State or non-State actors in the course of your work?

KK: This is the first time that I have been beaten by the police during the course of my work. I have, of course, faced difficulty in my line of work in that sometimes I have been denied access to my clients.

LM: What remedies are you likely to take?

KK: The remedies that are there are those that the law provides. I am going to sue these people who have violated my rights. If the law enforcement agents are to be fair and act in accordance with the law, we must see the individuals who perpetrated the assault on me being prosecuted.

They stole my phone in the process of assaulting me; they are basically criminals dressed in police uniforms.

It is not just the assault, there is a very serious problem we are seeing in the behaviour of these people.

I have made a police report already and the matter is under investigation, although I cannot say I am confident of the outcome of that investigation.

If that investigation does not lead anywhere, then there is the option of private prosecution.

LM: As a human rights lawyer, do you feel safe in Zimbabwe?

KK: In Zimbabwe, we are all in a big prison, nobody is safe, the track record is there since 1980. I have clients of mine who have been killed in prison and some who have been abducted and disappeared. At one point, I was representing Itai Dzamara and up to now, we do not know where he is.

I have represented Hilton Tamangani and, as you know, he was brutally beaten by the same police officers who assaulted me. Nobody is safe, I cannot say I feel safe, but that does not deter me from doing the work that I am passionate about.

LM: What is your view on harassment of human rights lawyers in Zimbabwe?

KK: I am not the first human rights lawyer to be violated. You will recall that lawyers that are more senior to me such as Andrew Makoni, Alec Muchadehama and Harrison Nkomo, had to go into exile running away from police brutality.

We had Innocent Chagonda and Beatrice Mtetwa facing similar vicious attacks. I am not the first, this is the continuation of a pattern that has become a norm in Zimbabwe.

However, it remains unacceptable. The pattern is there, the perpetrators remain the same, the modus operandi remains the same. It is just a continuation of the pattern.

LM:  Will this episode stop you from continuing with human rights work?

KK: My head is held up high, human rights law is my passion. It is my work and I will continue to do my work.

I think it is very important to give confidence to the clients themselves and other young lawyers who have to see that we have to be tenacious and should not be silenced.

In our line of work, as much as it might be dangerous, at the end of the day, we must remain committed to the ideals of human rights and freedom for all.

I think this comes as a lesson to me and other lawyers. It is not going to intimidate me or stop me from pursuing the work that I have been doing.

Having taken the oath of a legal practitioner, I cannot shake from that duty. It would be a dereliction of duty on my part if I were to allow this kind of intimidation to see me giving up. I will continue with my mandate.

I have attended court to represent Amos Chibaya and 25 others together with a team of three other legal practitioners and in persevering … human rights will continue doing so.

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Zimbabwean Embassy To Launch A Plan For The Return Of ZEP … – The Zimbabwe Mail

The Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa is expected to launch a strategic plan for the return of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders.

South Africa cancelled the ZEP facility last year stating that holders will not be allowed to reside, work or learn in that country beyond 30 June 2023 if they cannot find alternative legal permission to live there.

About 180 000 Zimbabweans face deportation.

Several lobby groups met last week at the University of Cape Town to discuss the upcoming court bid to oppose the government’s decision to scrap the ZEP.

A lawyer representing permit holders, Advocate Simba Chitando, told SABC News that the Zimbabwean government is not responsible for the decision to terminate the ZEP. He added:

In my view, all the Zim government can do is make provisions to accept the Zim nationals who may want to return to Zimbabwe. It looks like the Zim government is saying that for those who wish to return, I got the sense that it is a voluntary exercise, and they are doing what any government would do when there is a crisis in a foreign country, to make provisions for the return of its own people.

South Africa’s cancellation of special permits for foreign nationals is part of a broad exercise of reviewing its immigration policies to manage an influx of economic migrants.

It is viewed as the government’s response to intensified calls and efforts by South African nationals who have over the years been calling for the ejection of foreign nationals whom they argue were taking their jobs and business opportunities.

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Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood has charges … – New

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Manchester Evening News

Mason Greenwood has had criminal proceedings against him discontinued.

Charges against Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood have been dropped.

Greater Manchester Police have announced today that criminal proceedings against the 21-year-old have today been discontinued. The 21-year-old striker had been charged with attempted rape, engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour and assault, allegations relating to the same woman.

But in a statement today, Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr, GMP’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this.

“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.

“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.

“I would, however, like to use this opportunity to reiterate GMP’s commitment to investigating allegations of violence against women and girls and supporting those affected, regardless of their circumstances, throughout what can be a hard and upsetting time for them. An ever increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilising tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and care for victims.

“If you feel you are or might be a victim, please don’t let this case put you off asking for help.”

A CPS spokesperson said: “We have a duty to keep cases under continuous review. In this case a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case.

“We have explained our decision to all parties. We would always encourage any potential victims to come forward and report to police and we will prosecute wherever our legal test is met.”

Greenwood, who joined United aged six, has been suspended by the club during the court process. He has not played professional football for a year. The last game he played for United was the Premier League fixture against West Ham on January 22 last year.

About a week later, on January 30, Greenwood was arrested after a woman made a series of posts on Twitter. He was arrested and has been suspended by United ever since.

The following day, his sponsor Nike announced it had suspended its relationship with the footballer, later confirming the partnership had ended. Prosecutors charged Greenwood with the three offences about eight months later, in October.

He appeared before magistrates on October 17 and then before a judge at Minshull Street a month later, on November 21.

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Vast Resources expects historic diamond parcel release in coming days –

(Alliance News) – Vast Resources PLC on Thursday said the High Court of Zimbabwe has granted a default order against the Minister of Mines & Mining Development, in relation to the release of a historic parcel of diamonds.

The London-based mining company with projects in Romania and Zimbabwe said the High Court order for the release of the parcel of 129,400 carats of rough diamonds is expected to be signed in the coming days.

The company said the High Court should allow for a “lawful and transparent” process to begin for the release of the historic parcel to the company.

Vast Resources said the stones would be independently cleaned and valued, before being sold via a tender process. The company noted that once these processes have been finalised, it will refocus on other opportunities in Zimbabwe.

The diamonds have been held in the custody of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe since 2010, pending the determination of an appeal against the High Court’s decision in 2009. Vast resources began formal legal action in the High Court of Zimbabwe in December 2022.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Prelea said: “Despite taking longer than anticipated, I am very pleased to announce that after many years of hard work and discussion with the Zimbabwean Government the matter regarding the release of the historic parcel has now been amicably settled in a manner supported by an Order of the High Court of Zimbabwe.

“This demonstrates the Zimbabwe Government’s and in particular His Excellency President Cmd. E D Mnangagwa’s commitment to resolving legacy issues related to investment in Zimbabwe in a transparent and legal manner for the mutual benefit of investors and the Country.”

Vast Resources shares were down 14% trading at 0.68 pence per share on Thursday afternoon in London.

By Harvey Dorset, Alliance News reporter

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