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PROTESTS: Zimbabwe activist pastor arrested, as army blames “bogus” soldiers for beatings, torture



PROTESTS: Zimbabwe activist pastor arrested, as army blames "bogus" soldiers for beatings, torture

Security forces in Zimbabwe have arrested activist pastor Evan Mawarire on charges of subversion amid violent anti-government protests.

Reports say pastor Evan is expected to apply for bail at a High Court hearing on Friday, after he denied accusations that his Facebook video encouraging Zimbabweans to heed a strike call by the Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions incited people to violence.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s army claims that impostors who are out to tarnish the name of the military are to be held responsible for the beating of residents in townships following protests over fuel price hikes.

Zimbabwe National Army spokesman Alphios Makotore said those involved were not bona fide soldiers.

“The Zimbabwe National Army has noted with concern allegations of misconduct and acts of violence by people purporting to be members of the organisation,” he said.

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“The actions by these bogus elements have subsequently put the image of the organisation into disrepute,” his statement added, urging residents to report violations to military police.

Residents had accused soldiers and policemen who kept up patrols and checkpoints in the cities of Harare and Bulawayo of beating people on the streets but the police and military denied such accusations of excessive force.

“Soldiers just appeared in a truck and started beating up people at the shopping centre. They told everyone to go home and sleep,” said one resident from Glen Norah township in Harare who declined to be named.

“I was lucky because I managed to escape but this is really cruel.”

Lawyers and activists say police and soldiers have killed at least a dozen people, wounded scores and arrested hundreds since demonstrations began 13 days ago following a hike in the price of fuel.

However, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to investigate the security service crackdown on anti-government protesters.

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