Residents fume over lockdown brutality

STATE security agents deployed to enforce the 21-day national lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus have been accused of terrorising residents in several towns and cities, with some of the victims left seriously injured.

BY NHAU MANGIRAZI/DESMOND CHINGARANDE/MOSES MATENGA

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum director Blessing Gorejena yesterday said her organisation had documented 51 assault cases involving security agents, with most of the cases recorded in urban areas.

“Besides what we have documented through our structures, several cases are going unreported although we are working round the clock to help victims suffering from human rights violations by mainly State actors,” Gorejena said.

The lockdown became effective last Monday, before reports of police and army brutality emerged from different parts of the country, while videos of members of the uniformed forces “punishing” lockdown offenders went viral.

But police yesterday challenged the assault victims to report to their nearest police stations, while the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) dismissed the reports as false.

On Monday, soldiers reportedly violently dispersed people at Chigovanyika Business Centre in St Mary’s, Chitungwiza, and in Kuwadzana 4, a few hours before President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s convoy passed through the busy shopping centres.

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Later at night, the soldiers are said to have bashed the residents for booing Mnangagwa earlier in the day.
In Karoi and Kariba, police and the army reportedly harassed residents, leaving some nursing injuries.

A 79-year-old Kariba resident, Homani Matamba, claims he was assaulted by police officers while seated at home with his two sons.

“I was seated outside around 8pm when I was assaulted by the police, who accused us of not staying indoors. When they hit me, I passed out and don’t remember how I fell after they hit me all over the body and face. I was only attended to by my wife after the police had left,” he said.

Lucia Masvondo (26) from Chikangwe high-density suburb, Karoi, said police beat her up and unleashed a dog on her after finding her preparing supper using firewood inside her yard.

“I am worried that this lockdown is forcing us to be indoors at 8pm. Are we not allowed to prepare supper? Is it what the President has told these officers?” she asked.

Another resident Kemptson Guvheya (46) was assaulted as he was seeing off his brother.

Human rights lawyer Jeremiah Bamu said: “A lockdown is not a declaration of a state of emergency. People still have their rights and members of the security services have an obligation to respect, protect and promote these rights. Anyone whose rights have been violated has recourse in terms of the Constitution and law. They need to consult their lawyers on the available remedies they may have at law.”

Contacted for comment, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi urged the assault victims to report to their nearest police stations.

“We urge those being abused by the police officers enforcing lockdown to report to their nearest police stations for investigations to be instituted. We are seeing some of these issues on social media, but when we try to investigate them, we find nothing on the ground,” Nyathi said.

ZNA spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore yesterday said the allegations of police and army brutality were false.

“The issues you have raised with reference to the allegations against the Zimbabwe National Army members, who are assisting the Zimbabwe Republic Police in enforcing the lockdown, are not true. On the contrary and as a matter of fact, the broad spectrum of our citizens are complying with the lockdown without any adverse reports coming from either other security forces, government and community leaders involved in the national effort to curb the pandemic,” he said in a written response.

“Our advice is that anyone who claims to be a victim must promptly report to the nearest Zimbabwe Republic Police or the Zimbabwe National Army camps. It is futile to raise such serious allegations in the social media and/or media houses without reporting them to the relevant authorities.”

Do you have a coronavirus story? You can email us on: news@alphamedia.co.zw

9 Comments

  1. Report to the people who assaulted you, don’t show it in public media?

  2. This is absolutely bizzare for someone to be forced to take care of one’s health more so not knowing you are a danger to others. Surely human rights is for me too who is being disregarded by these wayward movers. This is not condoning brutality but its worse when someone exposes me to insecurity of the deadly virus. Human rights embrace everybody including me and yourself and medical staff and resources. Pse start pointing a finger at the right object not the shambok.

  3. How can a normal person report abuse to the same people who abused him/her and expect a fair redress? ZRP and ZNA have been reckless abusers of povo with unguarded impunity from 1980 and will never self-correct.

    1. Tarisai Chendambuya

      Nonsense. If one officer sins it does not mean the rest of the officers are sinners.

  4. baron VanbeatMe

    “If I slap you report it to me.” great advice. I cant fathom two things here:
    1. If I’m in my yard on my property I’m home. Why enter my property to beat me. The lockdown is a “stay home” one not “stay indoors.”

    2. Why do our authorities think that the only language we understand is a beating? What kind of mindset is that? Are there no tools in their toolbox apart from batons?

  5. ticky sibanda

    It seems like the treatment is worse then the virus. It might be time to look at alternatives such a the Swedish or Dutch approach. If we carry on like this we will have hunger and economic collapse which will be worse then the virus. It might be best to take the herd immunity route as I cannot see this present western solution working too well in Africa.

  6. if beating will save us, so be it. in norton people are definitely loitering and this will get out of hand in 2 or 3 days. rowai vanhu vakomana. human rights guys are only doing this to serve their masters. spare the rod and die of covid. pamberi ne sjambok

  7. People sometimes should be realistic. They cannot risk others conducting the Corona infection only to be disobedient to Gvnt orders. When national interests are at stake, the state should not have feelings. We rather be safe than sorry and it is public record that no country tolerates civil disobedience at the expense of other responsible citizens.

  8. Lyton Masarira

    There is nothing brutal about this, ask the Italians who had this same narrative when the Covid-19 chaos started & look at where their so called democracy got them. On this one the state is completely correct to whip ndururani into lane. To some extend yu seem to be politicising the corona issue. yu may have to check on yo personal ethic fabric & texture otherwise yu sold yo soul to the devil.

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