POLICE in Harare yesterday arrested four MDC-T officials on charges of impersonating the police while a lawyer who was trying to defend the four was also picked up for obstructing the course of justice.
After the arrest of the five, detectives raided some offices along Bath Road in Belgravia and recovered some exhibits linking the four to the offence.
Harare lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa together with two former prosecutors, Thabani Mpofu and Felix Matsinde, were part of those arrested.
Mpofu is a legal officer in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office.
The other suspects are Councillor Warship Dumba and an administrator, Ms Anna Muzvidziwa.
At the time of going to press it was not clear who the owners of the raided offices were given that the police were saying they belonged to a certain unnamed non-governmental organisation, while MDC-T officials said they were actually offices of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mpofu was the first one to be arrested at his Borrowdale house in the early hours of Sunday. Matsinde was later arrested at Avondale Shopping Centre.
Mtetwa was picked up at the offices while trying to inquire about the search warrant used to enter the offices.
There was a tense atmosphere at the offices as several police vehicles drove off with some of the arrested officials.
Party lawyers Mr Alec Muchadehama and Mr Chris Mhike, together with MDC-T senior official Mr James Maridadi, were among the people that drove to the offices to witness the raid.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the arrest of the five saying they were being held at Harare Central Police Station.
"Today, we have arrested five people, Thabani Mpofu, Felix Matsinde, Warship Dumba, Anna Muzvidziwa and Beatrice Mtetwa. Two of them are former public prosecutors.
"Four of them were arrested for impersonating the police while Mtetwa was arrested for obstructing the course of justice when she approached police officers doing their job and tried to stop them.
"When a lawyer goes beyond her legal mandate it becomes a criminal offence. She did not go to the police station to inquire about her clients. Instead, she went to the place where police were doing their job and tried to obstruct the course of justice," she said.
Asst Comm Charamba said the five were being held at Harare Central Police Station.
Mr Muchadehama, who is representing the four party officials, said the charge for his clients was not yet clear although the warrant of detention showed they were being charged under Section 40 of the Criminal Law Codification (Reform) Act, which criminalises possession of articles for criminal offences.
"The four were picked up and we are not yet aware of the actual charges to be preferred. So far the warrants of detention show that the suspects breached Section 40 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, but I do not see how the raided computers and documents qualify to be articles mentioned under the law in question.
"They have taken some computers and a box of written communications," said Mr Muchadehama.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora said the arrest and subsequent raiding of the offices was a move aimed at souring the relations between the political parties in the Global Political Agreement.
"We were told that police raided the PM's offices along Bath Road in Belgravia. One of our legal officers Mr Thabani Mpofu was among those who were arrested. We have no idea why that was done," said Mr Mwonzora.
Asst Comm Charamba insisted the offices belonged to an NGO.
"What we know is that the offices belong to a certain NGO and claims that the offices belonged to the Prime Minister's Office remain claims," she said.
Meanwhile lawyers representing Mtetwa filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court challenging her arrest.
In an interview late last night, Advocate Thabani Mpofu said they were expecting to argue the case later in the night.
"We are still chasing to have the case placed before a Judge. Our argument is that the police have no right to arrest her," said Adv Mpofu.