‘Most violence victims still traumatised’

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Seventy-six percent of the victims of political violence are still traumatised and struggling to come to terms with past violations, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

In their report titled Transitional Justice National Survey: A Report on the People’s Perceptions and Recommendations, the watchdog established 41% of the respondents did not believe perpetrators of political violence would ever repent and another 41% also believed the victims of political violence cannot be healed.

In the report, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said the research method was based on a pre-determined questionnaire, which was administered to individual interviewees at household level.

“This method allowed the opinions of participants from a broad spectrum of the population to be elicited. The goal was to probe the opinions and attitudes of the general population about past gross human rights violations and possible responses to this history of abuse,” states the report.

During the research, 3 189 people were interviewed across 84 constituencies in the country.
Some 686 of the respondents, a figure which represented a large majority of the victims of political violence interviewed on their feelings, said they were still bitter about what happened to them.

“While those who identified themselves as victims or were closely related to the victims admitted to being bitter, 76% of the respondents to this question stated that they were still struggling with the experiences of the past,” said the report.

“They reported being bitter about what they went through with 19% saying they had managed to move on.” The report stated 41% of the respondents felt there was no likelihood the perpetrators would ever repent or admit to the violent acts and an equal percentage also thought the victims would never heal.

“In one of the areas worst affected by political violence, a woman was asked what she would need in order to be healed; she answered, ‘My husband.’ Her husband was murdered during political upheavals.

“Twenty-seven percent of the people polled believed it was possible to heal the victims effectively.

“Those who had doubts about the possibility of the victim being healed constituted 33 percent of the respondents. Seventy-four percent doubted the prospects of perpetrators of past human rights violations ever repenting,” the report said.

As a way forward, 49% of the respondents said they would want to be compensated for their losses and 14% said perpetrators must ask for forgiveness from their victims.

“At least 22% opted for truth recovery, with 21% calling for reparations to the victims of violence. Prosecutions were preferred by 14% of the respondents,” the report said.