Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Doctors lift lid on August 1 shootings

By Pauline Hurungudo

Doctors yesterday lifted the lid on the August 1 killings, releasing an explosive report in which several people accused the military of shooting them at point blank following the hotly-disputed July 30 elections.

A soldier fires shots towards demonstrators, on August 1 2018, in Harare, as protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country's election. (AFP PHOTO / Zinyange AUNTONY
A soldier fires shots towards demonstrators, on August 1 2018, in Harare, as protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country’s election. (AFP PHOTO / Zinyange AUNTONY

In their report titled “A New Era or Error” — which was released at a local hotel — the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said the military had, in one of the ugly incidents witnessed, forcefully taken away a body from the morgue, in a desperate bid to “tamper with evidence”.

ZADHR worked with other medical professionals in the gathering of the evidence for their report.

“The report contains all the post-election medical compilations attended to by ZADHR from August 2018 to September 2018.

“There were people who were beaten on August 1 by soldiers and we attended to 11 cases of gunshot wounds, and these people had stories to tell on how they were shot and injured.

“Some of them were just people doing their usual business in town and it is detailed in our report,” ZADHR treasurer Norman Matara said at the launch of the report.

He said guns, sjambocks, stones and other unknown objects were reported to be among the choice weapons used on the victims.

Matara also revealed that the government had tried to tamper with evidence of the killings, by sending State agents to take away a body from the examination room after the August 1 violence.

“Medical doctors didn’t know how to examine the bodies after the shooting from soldiers.

“When one of our colleagues arrived to attend to one of the bodies to ascertain the injuries, there was someone who came in a suit, a State agent, who was actually victimising the doctor. And they actually took the body away.

“So, there was a lot of pressure from the State on government doctors and this is a big issue in medicine,” Matara said.

In one incident, doctors also alleged that one of the government’s pathologists had tried to conceal the cause of death on one of the people shot on August 1 — by “falsifying” the death diagnosis report.

Matara said that the pathologist in question had since retracted the report after pressure from the victim’s family and ZADHR.

ZADHR vice chairperson Fungisai Mazhandu — who is a psycho-analyst — said that many victims were still recovering from the post-traumatic stress from the violence that they suffered.

All this comes after violence broke out in Harare on August 1 when thousands of demonstrators clashed with riot police — resulting in the army’s intervention, and leaving at least six people dead and dozens others injured from gun shots.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa subsequently appointed a Commission of Inquiry to probe the deadly shootings.

The commission is chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe. DailyNews