Dear Family and Friends,

Utterly heartbreaking scenes were shown in a short video clip last week of former Senator and Cabinet Minister, Jameson Timba, and 77 youngsters disembarking from a police bus which was taking them to the Harare Magistrates Court. It was almost too painful to watch as they hobbled, limped and staggered towards the Court watched by police in riot gear, wearing helmets and holding rubber truncheons. Many of those arrested were young women. One young woman had her leg bandaged and wrapped in blue plastic from her knee to her toes; she had been beaten so badly by police that her leg was broken. She screamed in pain and another young woman wearing a red jacket bent down and lifted her onto her back, piggy backing her to the Court. Journalists described ‘visible scars of torture’ on some of those arrested and lawyers said several needed medical treatment.

The 77 youngsters had gathered at opposition faction leader’s CCC Jameson Timba’s home in Avondale Harare to commemorate the International Day of the African Child. They were arrested and charged with ‘participating in a gathering with the intent to promote violence.’  Amnesty International said the arrest and continued arbitrary detention of opposition members was “part of a disturbing pattern of repression against people exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.” “Authorities must promptly, thoroughly, impartially, independently, transparently and effectively investigate allegations that some of those arrested were tortured while in police custody,” Amnesty said.   

In the following days Mr Timba’s son was granted bail and two others were remanded out of custody but the former Senator and all the others remained incarcerated. After nine days the bail hearing was due to be heard and scores of supporters turned up and swamped the Magistrates Court while a big crowd gathered outside, but the ruling was not handed down, delayed for a further two days after the state had failed to file their submissions on time. The  ‘Avondale 78’ as they were now being called  were taken back to prison.  Eleven days after their original arrest, on Thursday 27th June, Magistrate Ruth Moyo denied bail to Jameson Timba and the 77 young people who had been arrested at his home. They have been remanded in custody until July 10.

In the days that this horror has been unfolding, the baby of the woman with the broken leg wrapped in blue plastic, has tragically passed away. Appeals to the Court to allow the woman to attend her baby’s funeral have been denied. As I write this letter there is a heavy police presence at the Magistrate’s Court in Harare. Hundreds of protestors have gathered and are singing and chanting. Peaceful protestors are being chased by riot police. The wife of one of the young men in prison has been arrested for holding up a placard asking for her disabled husband’s release. (

Please keep Zimbabwe in your thoughts and prayers and share this news with your family and friends. Updates can be found on social media sites. There is no charge for this Letter From Zimbabwe but if you would like to donate please visit my website. Until next time, thanks for reading this Letter From Zimbabwe now in its 24th year, and my books about life in Zimbabwe, a country in waiting.

Ndini shamwari yenyu (I am your friend)

Love Cathy 27 June 2024. Copyright © Cathy Buckle

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