Harare - Zimbabwe police charged a top rights activist with
a litany of alleged offences on Friday, hours after she handed herself in to
the authorities, her lawyer said.
"Police have charged her for allegedly operating an
unregistered organisation," Harrison Nkomo, Jestina Mukoko's lawyer told
Other charges included the smuggling of radio sets and
mobile phones and broadcasting without a licence, Nkomo added.
"They have released her into our custody and said they
will call us when they are ready to go to court."
The allegations come ahead of a March 16 referendum on a new
constitution and crunch elections that will decide who will lead the country.
Mukoko handed herself to police on Friday morning
accompanied by her lawyers and spent three hours with the police as the charges
Nkomo described the meeting as "cordial".
Police charges against Mukoko come weeks after a raid at the
Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) where she is the director.
In 2008, Mukoko was seized from her home and detained at an
undisclosed location before being taken to the notorious Chikurubi prison, a
maximum-security centre outside Harare.
Her lawyers claimed state agents severely tortured her and
forced her to confess to banditry and treason.
Serious security threat
She was charged in 2009 with plotting to overthrow
long-ruling President Robert Mugabe, but the charges were later dismissed.
The prosecution accused her of recruiting people for terror
training in neighbouring Botswana, a claim rejected by Botswana and Prime
Minister Mogan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
State media on Friday quoted police commissioner general,
Augustine Chihuri appealing to people knowing Mukoko's whereabouts to report to
any police station.
Alleged government harassment has spiked ahead of a
referendum on March 16 and general elections later this year.
Police last month vowed to crack down on non-governmental
organisations saying some pose a "serious security threat".
In February, authorities raided the offices of ZPP, a human
rights NGO, purportedly looking for "subversive materials and illegal
They seized several documents and other materials.
Detectives have forcibly entered the offices of local poll
observer group the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and also
In December they ransacked the offices of rights group