2/21/08

Teachers union officials tortured

A group of 9 officials from the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) are receiving treatment at the Avenues Clinic after they were severely assaulted by ruling party supporters at ZANU-PF offices on Tuesday. Oswald Madziva, the PTUZ National Coordinator, said the group was at the Fourth Street bus terminus distributing flyers asking “the authorities to act on the collapse of the education system.” They were approached by rank marshals who said they didn’t have permission to do this.

ZANU-PF has offices on Fourth Street close to the bus terminus and the rank marshals in the area are believed to be youth militia members and ruling party supporters. They forced the group to march to the ZANU-PF offices, supposedly to verify that they were indeed teachers. The Fourth Street offices are notorious for their use by ZANU-PF as a torture centre.

Madziva said they were led into a hall in the building. A mob of ruling party supporters who had been hanging out in the yard was brought in and the physical attack began. The PTUZ coordinator said they were punched and slapped, and assaulted with iron bars, logs and pieces of furniture.

Madziva said the attack was brutal. He described how one of the ZANU-PF thugs picked up a desk and threw it at Secretary General Majongwe, who used his hands to block it. Bottles were thrown at them as well.

Among those assaulted was the PTUZ President Takavafirei Zhou and Secretary General Raymond Majongwe. With them was Linda Fumhunda, Harrison Mudzuri, Bernard Shoko, Charles Mbwandarika and Ladistos Zunda.

According to Madziva, there was a lot of verbal abuse hurled at them during the attack. He said he does not remember much but he recalls being accused of fighting against the government, “de-campaigning” ZANU-PF and supporting the MDC. The thugs also told them to join the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), which is a government creation.

Madziva said riot police arrived about 3 hours later and took them to Harare Central Station where their statements were recorded. But the ZANU-PF thugs who attacked them were not dealt with at all.

The PTUZ officials were released without charge and went to Harare Central Hospital for treatment. But Madziva said the doctors there refused to provide them with any medical assistance. They ended up at the Avenues Clinic, a private hospital that has been treating victims of political torture for years.

Majongwe, Zhou and many PTUZ officials have been arrested on several occasions as government continues to carry out a campaign against teachers. The union’s members are currently on strike demanding better salaries and working conditions. They have vowed not to return to work until their demands are met.

(thezimbabwean.co.uk)

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