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Policeman jailed for using Mugabe's toilet


Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe sent a policeman to jail for using a toilet that was reserved for presidential use. Here Mugabe attends the opening session of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Windhoek, Namibia on May 20, 2011.


Alexander Joe

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe always comes up with a way to surprise and outrage.

The country is in a state of perpetual crisis, economic challenges and human rights abuses. So what does Mugabe do? He jails a police officer for using his toilet.

A Zimbabwean policeman has been in prison for a month for using the presidential bathroom at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in the southern city of Bulawayo.

Alois Mabhunu, a homicide detective who was working security at the fair in May, went into the VIP lavatory — which was reserved exclusively for use by Mugabe and African Export Import Bank head Jean Louis Ekra – despite warnings from from officers in charge of guarding the toilet.

Mabhunu relieved himself, but the next day he was arrested for sitting on Mugabe's throne and he has been in custody ever since. Last week he was sentenced to 10 days in prison and received a demotion by an internal police court. 

An appeal by Mabhunu will be heard later this week by Augustine Chihuri, commissioner general of the Zimbabwe Republican Police force.

Government officials have have refused to comment on the matter, but Mugabe's critics condemn this as yet another abuse of the rule of law. 

"There has to be a law saying the toilet is the president's, but this was a public one," said Zimbabwean human-rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa to South Africa's Mail & Guardian. "They will have had to issue a proclamation in the Government Gazette specifying it. I bet they didn't do that."