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Zim activists charged for graffiti

09 November 2012, 13:37

Nairobi - Harare - Three Zimbabwe human rights activists detained earlier this week in a fresh crackdown on non-governmental organisations were on Thursday charged with defacing a wall with political graffiti and granted bail.

Fidelis Mudimu, a manager with the Counselling Services Unit of the group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, was arrested along with two senior staffers on Monday in a police raid on the organisation's offices in the capital Harare.

The Counselling Services Unit offers medical and psychological assistance to victims of organised violence.

"They appeared before the magistrate's court in Bulawayo and were granted $100 bail each," Kumbirai Mafunda, spokesperson for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, told AFP.


"The state alleged that on October 7 this year, they went to an office in Bulawayo and inscribed slogans on a wall and billboard in support of the Movement for Democratic Change party."

The Movement for Democratic Change is led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a partner of veteran President Robert Mugabe in a shaky power-sharing government.

Mafunda said the three detained staffers complained in court about their lengthy detention and said they were ill-treated while in police cells.

Authorities in Zimbabwe have in the past threatened to revoke registration for NGOs deemed to be opposed to Mugabe's policies.

In the latest raid the police said they were searching for "material that defaces any house, building, wall, fence, lamp post, gate, elevator without the consent of the owner or occupier thereof."

They seized a computer and some documents from the organisation's offices.

Amnesty International said the trio were arrested "arbitrarily" and were illegally transferred to second city Bulawayo.



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