PARTICIPANTS who had attended the commission of inquiry hearing in Bulawayo, Friday, which is investigating the post-election violence that led to the death of six civilians in Harare were left shell-shocked after security agents swooped in to arrest one of the witnesses who had given evidence.
The fourth witness, Siphamandla Mafu was surrounded by members of the anti-riot as soon as the proceedings adjourned for the day.
Mafu had earlier given evidence that his parents were killed during Gukurahundi and alleged that the perpetrator was President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
It was after he had said this that melee broke out in the venue forcing the proceedings to be temporarily aborted.
During that time, a few individuals were arrested for fighting inside the venue.
When proceedings continued after 2pm, Mafu took to the witness stand again and he alerted the seven member commission led by former South Africa president Kgalema Motlanthe that some of his colleagues had been arrested.
He claimed that one of them was also supposed to give evidence yet was denied that chance as he had been arrested.
“My colleagues were arrested at the instigation of a Zanu PF official who directed the police to arrest them and that is wrong, it seems the police are not independent but are now an extension of Zanu PF,” he alleged.
Later, when the hearings were over, police swooped on Mafu as he exited the venue.
People he was moving with were shocked by the development and formed a human shield which was disbanded by the police eager to have him arrested.
This roused the attention of other participants coming out of the venue and bystanders.
Their questions fell on deaf ears as members of the anti-riot police forced their way through the crowd, trying to shackle and remove Mafu from the grip of those trying to protect him.
A scuffle ensued as the police battled to break the human shield.
More police officers swooped in and some participants, out of fear withdrew from the scuffle.
As this was happening more reinforcements were called in to control the crowd and people shouted, “this is the very reason why the commission was set up in the first instance.”
Mafu was eventually bundled into a police truck and taken away.
As soon as the police car sped off, the participants were heard saying the police had been captured and that the commission had failed to protect witnesses as they had assured.
“What has happened to free speech and protection afterwards…” some of the participants shouted.