Police conducting surveillance of the GALZ office in 2012 (Pic: GALZ)

Police conducting surveillance of the
GALZ office in 2012 (Pic: GALZ)

A Zimbabwe High Court judge has ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs to return property confiscated by police in a raid on the offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ).

The group’s Harare offices were raided twice in August 2012, and documents, pamphlets and computers were seized by the police. The raids led to GALZ’s co-chairperson Martha Tholanah being charged with running an “unregistered” organisation.

Despite confirming that they found nothing illegal among the confiscated items, the authorities had refused to return the property until the case against Tholanah is complete.

High Court Judge Justice Priscillah Chigumba, however, agreed with GALZ lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara that the police had no basis for the continued retention of the property.

She also ruled that GALZ did not need to register as an organisation as its operations do not fall under the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act.

“The police, who alleged that GALZ had commenced operations in Zimbabwe without registering its operations under the PVO Act, will be embarrassed by the order,” said GALZ in a statement.

Meanwhile, the separate case against Tholanah of running an “unregistered” organisation will be heard in the Harare Magistrates Court on 29 January.

Chester Samba, director of GALZ, said in December that the case is another example of “harassment of GALZ that unfortunately continues unabated,” adding that the it was “a waste of state resources”.

That same month, five members of GALZ were arrested at an end of year Christmas party in Bulawayo for wearing t-shirts that proclaimed “same love”. They were beaten and fined for “public indecency” before being released.

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