SEVERAL MDC-T youths were injured while others were detained when police swooped on them while demonstrating for jobs in Harare yesterday.
According to the MDC-T, 25 protestors were seriously injured and rushed to hospital, with some complaining of “broken ribs” while others sustained head injuries.
Nineteen party youths, among them national youth spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo, Harare provincial youth chairperson and his Mashonaland Central counterpart Tonderai Samhu were detained together with Mabvuku-Tafara MP James Maridadi and Highfield East MP Eric Murayi.
They were later released from Harare Central Police Station without charge. Hlatywayo claimed all the 19 youths, with the exception of the two MPs, were severely beaten while at the police station by a policeman in anti-riot gear who called himself “Young Devil”.
“He beat us with baton sticks. Each one of us was whipped an average five times on the back,” Hlatywayo told our sister paper NewsDay after their release.
He said the MDC-T youths wanted to handover a petition to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda and had notified police on August 21 about the demonstration.
But Police yesterday said they dispersed a group of 70 “drunken” MDC-T activists who were obstructing traffic and throwing stones.
“Police will not hesitate to apply the full wrath of the law dealing with malcontents who impinge on other innocent people’s rights to move freely,” police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said.
NewsDay witnessed the street raid that took place at Joina City along Julius Nyerere Way where about 100 MDC-T youths had assembled.
The youths were singing and waving placards with messages calling the government to create employment.
More youths were still joining when the police descended on them.
The demonstration, which was supposed to start at 10am, was almost foiled by the heavy police presence that cordoned the area.
But when the police started leaving, the MDC-T youths regrouped.
The youths were, however, met with a ruthless response as anti-riot police assaulted anyone in their midst.
Maridadi pleaded with the police to allow the youths to exercise their democratic right to demonstrate peacefully. But his plea fell on deaf ears.
Last week police severely assaulted and detained photo-journalist Angela Jimu, MDC-T MP Ronia Bunjira and several MDC-T youths during another peaceful demonstration for jobs, sparking outrage from human rights defenders and media organisations.
In the petition to Mudenda dated August 27, MDC-T youths were demanding that government create a positive investment climate to revive industry and create jobs.