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Jailed Zimbabwe Opposition Members Are Reportedly Tortured

Reports of increasing incidents of torture against members of Zimbabwe's political opposition are circulating as rural elections came to an end Sunday. An opposition member of parliament was also arrested Sunday.

An eyewitness in the eastern border town of Chimanimani said Sunday she heard the screams of a Movement for Democratic Change supporter shortly after he was taken into custody by the government's Central Intelligence Organization.

Mike Magwaza is the bodyguard for Member of Parliament Roy Bennett, the only white farmer left in the district. He was arrested and accused by police of defying a government order to leave his home and business last month.

A third person, believed to be a South African citizen, was arrested as well.

Another eight members of the Movement for Democratic Change are in the same cells behind the police station. A second eyewitness said some of them had open wounds and have not eaten for four days.

Police and members of the Central Intelligence Organization in Chimanimani declined to answer questions Sunday.

In Harare, five opposition supporters, including a prominent youth leader, remain in detention and are, according to their lawyer, in need of urgent medical treatment.

The lawyer said the police have denied the five access to a doctor. In an affidavit he said he intended to present to the court, the lawyer also said all five showed signs of having been assaulted.

One of the five, 18-year-old Tom Spicer, was separated from his four friends and told his lawyers he had been subjected to electric shock treatment. The lawyers said Saturday he was unable to focus his eyes and had difficulty walking.

One lawyer for the five said he had spent 24 hours looking for officials from the Department of Justice to facilitate an urgent application to the High Court to demand the detainees receive medical treatment.

These arrests and allegations of torture are just the tip of the iceberg, according to opposition supporters in various parts of Zimbabwe. The reports circulated against the background of countrywide rural elections that ended Sunday.

The government-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission said Saturday the run-up to the elections had been marred by violence in parts of the country.

Eyewitnesses in the rural areas in southern Zimbabwe said that by midday it appeared that less than 10 percent of the electorate had turned out to vote.

More than half the opposition candidates withdrew from the elections, citing intimidation and fear of attacks, or were refused permission to register.