Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says police brutally beat him and other opposition leaders following their arrest on Sunday. Mr. Tsvangirai was interviewed by a radio reporter who was at the hospital where the opposition leader is awaiting the results of a scan to determine if he has a fractured skull and damage to the brain. Delia Robertson reports from Johannesburg.
Morgan Tsvangirai says that police started to beat him and his colleagues as soon as they arrived in police cells on Sunday.
"It was almost as if they were waiting for me," he said. "I was then sent inside where my colleagues were lined up inside the police cell. And before I could even settle down I was subjected to a lot of beatings. In fact, it was random beatings, but I think the intention was to inflict as much harm as they could."
Mr. Tsvangirai was among a group of around 50 people arrested when they attempted to attend a prayer meeting in Harare on Sunday. Several still had visible wounds when they appeared in court Tuesday, from Tsvangerai's stitched head to at least two with broken limbs and a woman who had to be carried on a stretcher.
Doctors say they are concerned that Tsvangirai's skull is fractured and that he has bleeding on the brain.
None of those arrested have as yet been charged. In two chaotic court appearances on Tuesday prosecutors were unable to produce a charge sheet. The accused were ordered back to court Wednesday morning, but waited in vain for the arrival of prosecutors and police. They returned to their homes or their hospital beds.
Following the incident on Sunday, other African countries appear for the first time, to be publicly distancing themselves from President Robert Mugabe and his government. The Zambian president has expressed concern and the South African government has urged the Zimbabwe government to abide by the rule of law.
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told South Africa's national radio, the government stands by to help its neighbor resolve the crisis.
"Our views are clearly known to all in Zimbabwe that we are extremely concerned about what has happened and we want to assist to help bring about some movement forward in the Zimbabwe situation," he said.
One of the lawyers representing the opposition leaders told VOA that Zimbabwe's attorney general's office is reluctant to bring charges against Mr. Tsvangirai and others, because the office questions the legal validity of charging them.