'I will never forgive Mugabe and anyone else who bears his name'

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The Independent Online

Fred Muza (not his real name) had never experienced President Robert Mugabe's brutality first hand until he joined other cricket fans at the Zimbabwe-Australia World Cup match in Bulawayo in February.

Mr Muza, 28, insists he entered the Queens Sports Club in Zimbabwe's second largest city purely for the cricket. "I had no intention of partaking in any anti-Mugabe demos. I am no activist, much as I disapprove the systematic destruction of Zimbabwe at the hands of the Mugabe regime," he says.

But Mr Muza's crime was to sit near a small band of people who had smuggled placards into the ground and began demonstrating a few minutes into the match.

Heavily armed riot police immediately swooped and arrested more than 20 protestors, including Mr Muza who had no placard. They were all imprisoned.

He tried to plead with his tormentors that he was not part of the protesting group, but to no avail. Four days of torture and heavy beatings followed at the hands of the riot police.

"I will never forgive Robert Mugabe, his children, his great-great-grandchildren and anyone else who bears his name now and who shall bear it in the eternal future," Mr Muza says.

He says his incarceration was in violation of Zimbabwe's laws, which require the police to detain anyone for a maximum of only 48 hours before sending them to jail.

He says he was kept in filthy conditions, with lice feeding on his body. He only had a small wet blanket for cover on a floor drenched in urine.

He was denied food, water and contact with his family. Policemen took turns to beat him on the soles of his feet. He says that he was released after four days, but was never told what crime he had committed.

Mr Muza thinks that the British cricket authorities are "heartless and cowards" for ignoring abuses in Zimbabwe by hosting the "highly politicised" Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU). Mr Mugabe is the official patron of the ZCU and its letterhead bears his name.

"The Zimbabweans there [in London] should stop these piecemeal placard waving demonstrations ... They should invade the pitch and totally disrupt the match from going on on Thursday," Mr Muza says.