A delegation of lawyers just returned from an inspection of human rights conditions in Zimbabwe were shocked at the contemptuous attitude of police and government officials toward humans rights in their nation. Andrea Gabriel commented: “We were shocked at the levels of evidence of torture and police brutality and the impunity shown to members of the legal profession.” Gabriel, a member of the Durban Bar noted that even orders from the Zimbabwe High Court were ignored. In a typical case they encountered, a lawyer representing a member of opposition party leader, Morgban Tavangiral was denied access to his client. Another lawyer, Andrew Makoni, was warned he would be charged with an attempt to defeat the ends of justice because of statements he made to defend his client. When he tried serving a court order on a police inspector, the man tore it up, scrunched it into a ball and thew it in his face. Earlier this year, hundreds of people were arrested on charge of being “petrol bombers” without search warrants and later the police were told by the court they simply had no evidence.
Leading lawyers in South Africa and Zambia have called upon their government to come to the aid of Zimbabwe, but there is a reluctance to take action against another African nation. The same leaders who were active in the fight for independence from colonial rule are remarkably silent in the face of oppression and poverty in one of their fellow African nations.