A MILITARY crackdown against civilians that followed recent protests was laid bare at the Bulawayo Magistrates Court during the trial of three residents who suffered severe beatings and torture at the hands of the security forces.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Leo Ncube, Kelvin Dube and Courage Bester Mkandla revealed that they endured severe beatings at the hands of soldiers who apprehended them before handing them over to the police on charges of illegally possessing 39 grammes of crystal methaphethami.
The incident took place on January 23, while the trio appeared before magistrate Tinashe Tashaya on Monday.
Through their lawyers, Nqobani Sithole and Mlweliwenkululeko Dube from Ncube and Partners, the accused told the court that they were severely assaulted by the army before being taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station where they were allegedly subjected to further attacks in the presence of the police.
“Your worship, my clients have got serious complaints against the defence forces who captured them. Upon their capture, they were severely beaten. The accused were taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station where they were assaulted again in the presence of police officers,” Sithole told the court.
Sithole said police took no action to stop the beatings.
Sithole said after assaulting the accused, the army warned them not to reveal the attacks in court. The defence lawyers argued that their clients should be removed from remand because their arrest was unconstitutional.
Magistrate Tashaya ordered the State in conjunction with the accused‘s lawyers to investigate the allegations against the army and submit a written report in court before February 13.
The accused were granted $100 bail each and ordered to stay at their given residential addresses until their case is finalised.
Meanwhile, Matabeleland Collective, a network of civil society organisations and churches based in Bulawayo yesterday said their research shows that more than 1000 residents have been subjected to beatings and torture at the hands of the soldiers reminiscent of the Gukurahundi era.
“We as a collective are concerned that the night-time indiscriminate mass beatings in high-density areas, reinforces the trauma of the Gukurahundi especially the pattern for mass arrests and random beatings and assault of citizens,” the civic group said in a statement yesterday.
There have been widespread wanton attacks on civilians, particularly in the high-density suburbs by members of the military though government recently tried to blame it on rogue elements.
Soldiers have maintained a heavy presence following their deployment in the streets to put down the Monday and Tuesday protests over a sharp increase in the price of fuel announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.