MEMBERS of the national army have allegedly started a terror campaign, beating up Harare residents ahead of the senatorial election scheduled for November 26.
Fifteen Budiriro residents were some of the victims of violence against civilians after soldiers went around beating up people in the suburb last Saturday. Most of the assaults occurred in Budiriro 4.
Those beaten have signed affidavits to back up their complaints. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights will represent the victims.
One of the victims identified the soldiers who beat him up as Moyo, Ngoshi, Kadye and Happy and the identification was corroborated by other victims. All 15 victims swore under oath that they were beaten up by soldiers.
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told the Zimbabwe Independent that he was unaware of the case of violence against civilians. “Did those people report their cases to the police? If they did not, then we don’t know anything about it,” Bvudzijena said.
Reasons for the beatings are said to be political.
One of the victims said he was woken up by a knock at the door at 10pm on October 15. “When I opened the door I was greeted with clenched fists . booted foot,” he said in his affidavit. He said he was threatened with death “if I continue supporting MDC. My life is at risk.”
Another victim said when he reported the case to the police, he was chased away.
A third victim said he was approached by a soldier at Mhizha beerhall who “asked me why I was wearing an MDC T-shirt” before he started beating him.
Meanwhile five field officers working with the Mass Public Opinion Institute were on Wednesday assaulted by a group of war veterans while conducting a research on democracy and had their vehicle impounded.
Officen Nyaungwe, Claris Madhuku, Sozwaphi Masunungure, Isiah Makamure and Wilson Shonhiwa were conducting a research for Africa Barometer at Ushewokunze Housing Co-operative along Beatrice road.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the five were confronted, abducted and detained by self-styled war veterans who accused them of “acting against national interests” before beating them up in full view of the community.
“They were presented to a local community of over 100 people, where upon being accused of acting against national interests, the group of war veterans who did not identify themselves began to beat them up in full view of the community using booted feet, clenched fists, open palms, sticks, logs and bottles,” the ZLHR said.
A soldier in military uniform was part of the group which beat up the five researchers. “A soldier from the Zimbabwe National Army dressed in full military uniform arrived at the scene and immediately joined in the beatings,” the ZLHR said.
The soldier and war veterans asked for identification cards from the research group. When they suspected that Claris Madhuku was related to Lovemore Madhuku, the chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly, they beat him up.
“This incensed the assailants resulting in more severe beatings on Claris Madhuku advising him that he was now being beaten ‘for the sins of his brother’,” the lawyers said.
Three of researchers were admitted at the Avenues Clinic for treatment before they were discharged. Two were hospitalised and detained overnight as they had sustained severe injuries.
The ZLHR has petitioned the police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi and Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa to intervene.
They requested a fair, impartial and independent inquiry into the beatings and other attacks on human right defenders to bring the perpetrators to justice.