MTHWAKAZI Liberation Front (MLF) activist Charles Thomas’ treason trial opened at the Bulawayo High Court yesterday where he put it on record that he was subjected to severe torture by police at Entumbane and Bulawayo Central Police stations.
Thomas was jointly charged with Paul Siwela and John Gazi for treason after being allegedly found in possession of subversive material inciting the violent overthrow of President Robert Mugabe.
Siwela skipped bail and is believed to be in self-imposed exile while Gazi was acquitted for lack of evidence.
The case is before retired High Court judge Justice Nicholas Ndou sitting with assessors Fanuel Damba and Elliot Nyoni.
Thomas was represented by advocate Lucas Nkomo instructed by advocate Robert Ndlovu.
Presenting his defence, Thomas said when he was arrested by Constable Alex Chidhakwa at Entumbane Complex on March 3 2011, he was not given any reasons, but taken to Entumbane Police Station where the initial torture started.
“They started asking me what Mthwakazi was all about,” he said “They assaulted me with baton sticks. The assault took quite some time which I cannot remember because I was in a lot of pain as they were beating me on the head where I have an operation and I complained about that.”
He said some officers in civilian clothes further tortured him at the station.
“They took turns to beat me and gave me water to drink from a five litre gallon.
“They were saying I should explain what Mthwakazi meant and what its objectives were.
“The ill-treatment only stopped when my wife arrived to see me after two or three hours.”
Thomas said later, three officers from the Law and Order section came to the station and threw him into the back of a truck where he was tied to the rail and taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station where he was further questioned about Mthwakazi and its composition.
“They started assaulting me saying I should tell them where they could find other members of the party, but I told them I did not know,” he said.
“The assault took about three hours and they took me into a cell when I started bleeding through the mouth.”
Thomas said he informed officers in the morning that he was on medication and he needed his tablets, but his pleas were ignored.
He said he later learnt that his wife had brought his pills, but the police did not give him.
“I only managed to get medication when I was taken to Tredgold (Bulawayo Magistrates’) Court where the magistrate ordered that I be taken to hospital,” he said.
Thomas said his co-accused Siwela and Gazi were brought to the station two days after his detention.
Thomas admitted that he is still a member of the MLF before his lawyer tendered an MLF constitution to the court as part of evidence.
But the State represented by Lovack Masuku and Samuel Pedzisai opposed the tendering of the document saying they were not given time to look at it.
Two key State witnesses Headman Sibanda and Sibangani Ndlovu disowned statements they were alleged to have made to the police at the start of the trial.
The case continues today and tomorrow when the State is expected to cross-examine Thomas.