15 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Arrested MDC-T Chairman Seen in Handcuffs and Leg Irons

A branch chairman from the MDC-T's Bulawayo structures, who was arrested and detained by the military two weeks ago, was seen by residents in his constituency last Friday walking around in handcuffs and leg irons as police searched his house.

Happison Ncube, a former soldier and chairman of the MDC-T Cowdray Park branch, has been in detention at Brady Barracks in Bulawayo since he handed himself in to the police on Wednesday, January 2nd.

SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme said residents in his constituency saw Ncube outside his house on Friday, with soldiers searching the property.

"They came and asked his mother a few questions then proceeded to thoroughly search the house. They took party records and party cards and other materials from Ncube's time as MDC-T official in South Africa. Sources said he was handcuffed and with leg irons outside the house," Saungweme explained.

He said the arrest centres on the way Ncube left the army, but the MDC-T believe he is being treated like a criminal simply because he is branch officicial in the MDC-T in Cowdray Park constituency.

Officers from the Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI) had left a message ordering him to report to Luveve police station. When he presented himself, they arrested him and handed him over to army officials.

The officers want Ncube to prove that he resigned from the military through the normal procedures. He was based at the army's 4 Brigade headquarters in Masvingo.

Saungweme said Ncube handed in a letter of resignation before he went on leave in November last year, because he wanted to return to civilian life. But it is not clear whether the army accepted his resignation or not. No evidence has been produced to show he simply disappeared, especially since he turned himself into the police.

Saungweme said MDC-T officials in Bulawayo accused the authorities of abusing their powers and treating Ncube like a criminal. They believe he is being prosecuted because of his position as an MDC-T official.

The MDC-T say that if the army had issues with the way Ncube resigned, they could have simply checked their records before arresting and jailing him. This is a continuation of what the MDC-T has called "persecution by prosecution", where the police arrest first, then investigate later.

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