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Police nab 35 MDC activists, confiscate arms, explosives
Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2007

Herald Reporter
March 29, 2007

POLICE yesterday arrested 35 MDC activists and seized explosives and arms after the recent spate of terror bombings, hours after the ninth bombing, this time of two petrol tankers in Mutare yesterday morning.

The top two suspects were Ian Makone, the special advisor to faction leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, and last year's failed MDC candidate for Chikomba constituency, Piniel Denga, who was arrested after large quantities of explosives and detonators were reportedly found at his city flat.

Others were rounded up on Tuesday night in connection with the Monday night bombing of the Zanu-PF Mbare district office while a further group was picked up in a major raid on the faction's Harvest House headquarters in central Harare yesterday.

Among those arrested are some suspected operatives of the faction's self-named Democratic Resistance Committees, underground cells believed to be behind violence and bombing campaigns to create panic and render Zimbabwe ungovernable.

Suspects were still being screened last night.

In their raids on the homes of Makone and Denga, police reported that they recovered explosives, detonators, tins of paint, two revolvers, ammunition, loud hailers and communication radios and T-shirts inscribed with the opposition party's slogans.

Addressing a Press conference at Harare Central Police Station last night, police chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said Denga, who was the MDC candidate in the Chikomba by-election last year, was picked up at his flat in Harare's Avenues area.

Police recovered 53 explosives, 24 detonators, 88 tins of paint and T-shirts inscribed with MDC slogans at the flat, he reported.

The explosives were identical to those recovered at the scene of the bombing of a train in Mufakose last weekend and were similar to those used by the Zimbabwe National Army in demining operations and which had been supplied by Americans.

Makone – held on suspicion of being the mastermind of the violence that the opposition has been unleashing since March 12 – was picked up together with his wife Theresa.

Police recovered an Astra revolver and two rounds of ammunition at his home in Domboshava.

The revolver, Asst Comm Bvudzijena said, does not have a current licence.

Police also recovered a box of red whistles, 20 small loud hailers and 36 large hailers, five batteries for communication radios as well as documents linking the MDC to the so-called Democratic Resistance Committees, he said.

Police also raided the MDC faction headquarters at Harvest House along Nelson Mandela Avenue following a tip-off from intelligence and arrested 10 suspects suspected of being linked to the opposition's underground cell groups – the DRCs.

"One of the suspects has an injury on his stomach consistent with a burn and we suspect this was caused during the process of throwing a petrol bomb.

"We believe – and intelligence has it – that most of the so-called DRCs who were throwing petrol bombs were being housed at Harvest House and hence the raid this morning," Asst Comm Vudzijena said.

Several other activists rounded up when police raided the opposition's offices were being screened.

Police briefly closed a two-block section along Nelson Mandela Avenue between Angwa Street and Sam Nujoma Street to search the opposition offices in the area. Police dismissed claims that they had arrested Mr Tsvangirai during the Harvest House raid.

"We are not witch-hunting and the rumour that Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested during the Harvest House raid is misplaced and mischievous," Asst Comm Bvudzijena said.

Western media and online news agencies were yesterday awash with reports that Mr Tsvangirai had been picked up.

In the latest terror bombing, two petrol tankers were bombed along Sanhanga Road in Mutare.

However, police quickly responded and put out the fire before it spread.

There have been five terror bombings in Harare, two in Mutare and one each in Gweru and Bulawayo, which security authorities believe are meant to induce fear and insecurity in the Zimbabwean population.

Since March 12, this terror campaign – believed to be mounted by the MDC through its so-called DRCs – has mainly targeted Government officials, security forces and Zanu-PF officials.

But with bombings of a train and now the petrol tankers, they are now showing determination to spread the terror to the general public.

Asst Comm Bvudzijena said police would continue to arrest those who have committed these terror crimes irrespective of their political or social stature.

He also said the terror activities the country has witnessed are how civil wars are started.

"We do not want Zimbabwe to descend into anarchy. We appeal to anyone with information to come forth and assist us," he said.

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