By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
Human rights defenders have reacted angrily to reports of soldiers assaulting a six week old baby during an early morning raid at Hopley farm, a shanty settlement to the southeast of the capital.
A 20-strong group of soldiers went to the settlement early Monday morning and beat up residents as they looked for one Svosve, a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) youth leader, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.
The victims of the assaults, Davison Mangena, Vengai Chingoriwo and Svosve’s wife, Tatenda Kadzitonge, were subsequently taken to the Counselling Services Unit (CSU) after sustaining injuries and shock.
But it is the way the soldiers treated the infant that has shocked many.
After failing to locate Svosve, assaulting the adults and throwing buckets of water at Kadzitonge, one of the soldiers reportedly grabbed the named baby and hurled it to the ground.
The baby was also taken to the CSU but its condition could not be established by late afternoon.
“The Forum is deeply concerned by this well-orchestrated wave of violence meant to silence any dissenting voices,” said the NGO grouping.
Justice for Women Zimbabwe condemned the Hopley incident.
“We condemn in the strongest terms, the continuation of abuse of women and children by State police and army.
“Just a few weeks after the brutalisation of women by the police, soldiers have decided to spread such a satanic act to children.
“They (soldiers) literally threw the child to the ground. This was because they could not locate the father who is a known activist,” said the women’s pressure group in a statement.
Hopley Farm, a sprawling low income suburb set up in southwest Harare after the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina that government embarked on to purportedly get rid of illegal structures, is part of the settlements established by the government and Zanu PF heavyweights.
Zanu PF officials in Harare South have allocated houses and land to people on condition they vow their loyalty to Zanu PF.
Police have indiscriminately rounded women up, among them expecting mothers, during protests that started in July as citizens call on President Robert Mugabe to leave office owing to a collapsing economy, human rights abuses and bludgeoning poverty. Nehanda Radio