Court orders probe into torture allegations

A HARARE court has ordered an investigation into the alleged torture of two former soldiers accused of stealing weapons at Pomona Barracks in Borrowdale last year.

Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi ordered the investigations after Chenjerai Gwirizha and Marksist Mwaruta, both of Harare, told him that police and military intelligence officers tortured and threatened them with death to force confessions.
The two former soldiers are part of a group of soldiers and political activists arrested after a highly publicised theft of weapons that shook military confidence in October last year.
Gwirizha (31) and Mwaruta (29) made the torture allegations when they appeared in court to answer charges under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act after allegedly breaking into Pomona Barracks armoury and stealing an assortment of guns and ammunition.
Gwirizha, a former corporal in the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), and Mwaruta, a former private in ZNA, face additional charges under the same law for allegedly possessing dangerous weapons.
“I was tortured by the police and military intelligence personnel,” Gwizhira said when asked by the magistrate whether he had any complaints against the police. “I was put on electricity shocks and beaten. I was threatened with death. That is all.”
Mwaruta told the court that he was heavily assaulted and denied access to treatment and blocked from seeing his relatives.
“I was heavily assaulted by the police. My cell phone was confiscated and up to now I haven’t seen it. I was sick and injured but was never given any chance to seek medical assistance. I was put on electric shock,” he said.
“I was also forced to write things that I never did on my warned and cautioned statement. I was never allowed to see any of my relatives for a whole month. I was arrested on November 16 2009 for the offence and we were being kept at One Commando Barracks where we were tortured. We would be taken to Braeside Police Station, 2 Brigade, Harare Remand Prison then on the same date to Harare Central Prison, and on December 19 2009 I was taken to Chikurubi Maximum Prison,” said Mwaruta.
The state alleges that Gwirizha and Mwaruta, in the company of accomplices who have since been convicted and sentenced for the same case — namely Baureni Mafara, Stanley Marange and Emmanuel Shiri — connived and hatched a plan to steal firearms from One Engineers Support Regiment Armoury, Pomona Barracks in Harare. –– Staff Writer.

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