By Maynard Manyowa
Police have launched an all offensive brutal attack characterised by arbitrary human rights abuses against people residing in Chiadzwa and surrounding areas close to the diamond fields in Manicaland province.
The police operation whose code name cannot be ascertained at this time began 3 days ago, with members of the force targeting men and women of youthful resemblance whom they accuse of touting and illegal gold panning.
According to information gathered by our correspondent the police canvas the entire community at night, and storm people’s homes to effect the illegal arrests.
Elderly members of the community have reportedly not been spared the abuses, as well as young children, whom the police assault, insult and harass.
According to worker’s representatives and villagers we spoke to, those arrested are being are being subjected to physical torture in the manner of Guantanamo detention centers.
The police routinely deny them food in custody, while beating the soles of their feet for hours on end.
The operation seems designed to quell the tension that has gripped areas surrounding the diamond fields since February this year when Mbada Diamond Mining Company shut down its operations, jeopardizing the livelihood of the entire rural community who depended on the mine and / or its activities.
The effects of the drought have further compounded the situation, and at least the entire community is struggling with food shortages and starvation.
Many villagers have been tempted to engage in illegal panning under the cover of darkness to try and alleviate their dire lack.
According to a source in the force, the police have implemented an unofficial curfew, while they unleash human rights abuses that evoke parallels with the killings of illegal panners almost a decade ago – a situation that led to classification of Zimbabwe’s diamonds as conflict (blood) diamonds.
At the time of writing, the police spokesperson could not be reached for comment as her cell number went to voicemail.
- Maynard Manyowa is a journalist & contributing Editor of Khuluma Afrika – a non-partisan center for investigative journalism.