HARARE – A human rights lawyer who accompanying MDC Alliance senior official Tendai Biti when he attempted to seek refuge in Zambia was severely beaten and had his car damaged by soldiers, a court heard on Monday.
Lawyers representing Biti said the lawyer, Unite Saize, was lucky to be alive after he was attacked for trailing behind the convoy which was bringing Biti back home after his escape bid flopped.
This emerged on the final day of the cross examination of the investigating officer (IO), Jealousy Mabasa.
Beatrice Mtetwa, for Biti, asked Mabasa: “What will be your comment if I put it to you that members of your team driving from Chirundu intercepted the car of the lawyer who was accompanying the accused and deflated his car tyres before they confiscated his phone and assaulted him while ordering him to strop trailing behind their convoy?”
Mabasa, however, denied the allegations saying nothing like that happened.
“We only stopped once during our journey. We stopped in Karoi to have our tyres serviced and never stopped again until we reached Harare,” he said.
“I will urge Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to investigate that crime if it happened.”
According to Biti’s lawyers, their client was accompanied but Saize so that he could assist him seeking his political asylum.
She said after Biti was abducted from Zambia by the army, the lawyer followed the convoy to ensure that Biti was safe.
He was then attacked by the abductors before they reached Karoi and was ordered to stop or risk his life.
The lawyers also accused Mabasa of infringing on their client’s rights after they confiscated his mobile phone.
But the officer said he did this to protect him.
“The accused told me that he was receiving threats from Zambian numbers, so I sensed that his life was in danger. I did not want any harm to befall him before he could appear in this court. It was my right to protect him,” he said.
Biti is facing charges of contravening the Electoral Act after he allegedly announced that MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa won the presidential election. He is also answering to a charge of inciting public violence over the events of August 1 when MDC Alliance youths marched to the offices of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to demand the release of Presidential Election results. At least seven people were killed when authorities sent soldiers to break up the protest.
Biti says his arrest was unlawful as he was abducted on Zambian soil where he had been given a court date for his asylum hearing.
Michael Reza, Jonathan Murombedzi and Justin Uladi are prosecuting while Mtetwa is being assisted by many rights lawyers including Gift Mtisi, Harrison Nkomo and Alec Muchadehama
Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo will make a ruling on his application for his arrest to be declared unlawful next Thursday.-ZimLive