23 January 2019

Zimbabwe: Edgy ZCTU Boss Begs Police to Reveal His Arrest Status

ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Peter Mutasa's lawyers have written to police demanding to know if the firebrand trade unionist was on their wanted list.

This follows last week's violent citizen protests over a fuel price hike.

Authorities have blamed Mutasa and his organisation for instigating the violence that saw vehicles stoned and torched, shops looted, with 12 deaths and several injuries later linked to the country's security forces.

The state crackdown has also targeted opposition MDC MPs who are now languishing in remand prison for allegedly instigating violence during a tense three days of a job boycott.

The ZCTU boss has been singled out as the one who recorded and circulated on social media, a video image with Harare cleric and activist Evan Mawarire, urging Zimbabweans to stay away from their workplaces in protest.

Mawarire, a fierce government critic, was last week arrested for subversion and further denied bail after the courts ruled he should be put to trial over the alleged offence.

Mutasa, on his part, has gone into hiding fearing for the worst.

But while he enjoyed his freedom for the meantime, he has sent his lawyers to go and investigate his freedom status among law enforcement agents.

"Our client, Peter Gift Mutasa has learnt that the police are alleging that he is on the run.

"He is not aware that the police are indeed looking for him for any reason," read a letter written by Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni legal practitioners.

In their letter, addressed to the Officer-in-Charge, Criminal Investigations Department - Law and Order division, Mutasa's lawyers pledge to present the trade union leader to the police if at all he was wanted for any offence.

"We write to enquire whether indeed the police are looking for him or not.

"Should the police be looking for him in relation to the commission of any criminal offences, kindly advise so that he makes himself available immediately forthwith," further read the letter.

Police have not been clear on whether they were indeed looking for the ZCTU leader or not.

Zimbabwe Republic Police chief spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba failed to reveal anything when a followup was made with her office Tuesday.

"I am following up on his records through relevant departments and will update you as soon as I get the finer details," she told NewZimbabwe.com.

Last Tuesday, suspected state security agents raided Mutasa's Harare home and beat up his 19-year-old brother who had professed ignorance over the trade unionist's whereabouts, according to the ZCTU.

Meanwhile, ZCTU's secretary general, Japhet Moyo who was arrested Monday on arrival from China at Robert Mugabe International Airport, was later released into his lawyer's custody same day.

He was arrested again some four hours later at his Chitungwiza home.

According to the union's legal department, Moyo is being accused of attempting to overthrow a constitutionally elected government, alternatively, inciting public violence.

He was Tuesday evening still detained at the Law and Order division in Harare.

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