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Police empty-handed after raid

Gift Phiri

IN what is seen as an intensification of the siege mentality currently gripping government, police from Harare’s Law and Order section this week raided opposition Movement for Democratic Change (M

DC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Strathaven home searching for weapons.

The squad, led by one Garnett Sikovha, alleged that Tsvangirai was keeping an arsenal of weapons including grenades and tear smoke canisters in his house. At the end of the search, nothing was found.

Meanwhile, police in Bulawayo this week arrested activist Jenni Williams after raiding the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) offices saying they were looking for explosives and weapons. Police managed to find 200 whistles and scarves. Williams was taken in for questioning on Monday and released on Wednesday after being interrogated about the source of the whistles.

Tsvangirai said he was surprised that he was being targeted for investigation when he was a victim of political violence. “Police seem to be targeting me in order to frustrate my political work,” Tsvangirai said.

The search on Saturday and Sunday stems from the attack on Tsvangirai during a meeting with the MDC provincial council in Mvurwi, 100km north east of Harare, last month. Tsvangirai, who was a victim of the attack, is now being accused of having caused the trouble and of firing teargas in the melée that resulted from the disruption of the meeting.

The MDC leader alleges that Zanu PF functionaries in six vehicles carried out the attack and it took place at the end of a police-approved meeting in the farming town of Mvurwi.

The officers who searched Tsvangirai’s home on Sunday took slightly over 45 minutes to go through the entire four-bedroomed home of the MDC leader.Also searched was Tsvangirai’s two-roomed office, his staff quarters and other outbuildings. Tsvangirai said the officers did not produce a search warrant.

Two weeks ago, four other officers, led by one Dhowa who once served as part of the UN peacekeeping force in Kosovo and had to be withdrawn after rights groups protested, visited Tsvangirai at his home saying they were investigating the Mvurwi incident. They questioned him and later his security guards on the origins of the teargas cannisters which were thrown at MDC supporters at the Mvurwi meeting. One of the guards was taken to Harare Police Station for further questioning.

The security guard’s home in Rugare, Harare, was later searched and nothing was found.Tsvangirai said his staff do not carry any firearms, grenades or teargas cannisters.

“On the day in question, our convoy was thoroughly searched at a police checkpoint outside Mvurwi before we entered the town,” said Tsvangirai.

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