IN a shocking exposé, victims of the violent attacks by uniformed military and police officers have spilled more graphic details about how they were
bludgeoned with blunt objects and torched with piping hot metal rods.
By Phyllis Mbanje/Everson Mushava
So barbaric were the attacks which are still ongoing in most parts of Harare’s high-density suburbs, that many will remain with the mental scars long after their flesh wounds have healed.
Most of the victims from Kuwadzana, Harare, including children as young as 12, suffered serious injuries after the military embarked on a door-to-door crackdown meant to quell the protests over fuel price increases and general hardships that many Zimbabweans are facing.
Seventeen year-old Stephen from Kuwadzana said he was traumatised by attacks from soldiers who he always looked up to as heroes. He is nursing head and back injuries.
Narrating his ordeal, the “O” Level student said Tuesday was a nightmare for his community, which was subjected to such torture many will require extensive medical care as well as counselling.
“All hell broke loose on Tuesday morning when the soldiers descended on our neighbourhood and started beating people. Many ran indoors to seek refuge, but they followed and either teargassed them out or kicked down doors,” he said painfully.
Like everyone, Stephen and his 12-year-old sister and their parents locked themselves up, but the soldiers came and demanded that they open the doors.
“My mother pleaded with them, saying they were just mere school children, but the soldiers did not listen and dragged us away. They took me and my sister, and we were ordered to roll in raw sewage before being beaten up with logs,” he said.
“It was very painful, but I tried to be brave and looked them in the face. That must have angered them more and they continued beating me.”
Several men and boys spent nights in the fields because the soldiers targeted them more. Those who failed to get away in time were ordered to lie down before being trampled on by booted feet and steel rods.
Many were taken up a mountain, beaten and ordered to roll down.
“We stayed in the forests, afraid to go back home and were very concerned about our families we had left behind,” a young man, from Mbare, said.
Elizabeth can hardly walk. They beat her backside until it turned black from repeated strokes.
“I cannot even sit properly; I am in so much pain. I do not belong to any political party, but they beat me up anyhow. What crime have I committed?” she queried.
The 30-year-old was beaten up in front of her four-year old son.
“My son saved me when he cried as he watched the entire drama, and that is when they stopped. One of them actually said if he had not cried, they wanted to kill me,” she said.
Another 27-year-old woman from Hopley, Jennifer, was battered while she was sleeping in her house.
“They demanded to see my husband and when I told them that he was at work, they started assaulting me. There were dogs everywhere. I was scared. I did not think I would live to see another day,” she said.
Like the other female victims, her backside got the worst and she struggles to sit or walk. Thirty seven year-old Getrude was beaten with a red-hot rod plucked from a burning tyre.
“They dragged me from my house and took me to where the tyres were burning and asked who had set the fire. I told them I had no idea, but they beat me up and took a burning rod and used it on me,” she said. Afterwards, they asked her to smear soot on the gaping wound.
The children whose age range from 12 were still traumatised and afraid to go home. “If I hear a sound, I jump because I imagine that they have come back, this time to kill me and my family,” said a 12-year-old, who had head and back injuries.
Yesterday, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said they had noted the human rights violations with concern since the beginning of the protests.
In a statement, they said they had recorded over 844 human rights violations during the shutdown, with at least 12 deaths and 78 injuries from gunshots as well as 242 from dog bites, assaults and torture. Over 466 cases of arbitrary arrests and detentions were also recorded.
The forum said it condemned the random and indiscriminate use of live ammunition as well as lethal force.
“The forum has received disturbing reports of armed security breaking into private homes, torturing occupants, including children as young as nine years,”
They also expressed concern over the Internet blockade by government, describing the act as unwarranted and unjustified.