By Pauline Hurungudo
The Zimbabwe National Army and Zimbabwe Republic Police deployed heavily to contain anti-government protests, conducting door-to door-raids and brutally assaulting civilians in their homes, rights lawyers have said.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemned the illegal wanton brutal attacks by the uniformed forces, saying that they would not hesitate to file court cases against those involved.
“Of concern is the involvement of soldiers in these illegal acts who are actively participating in the torture, cruel and inhumane treatment of residents, thereby violating section 53 of the Constitution,” the rights lawyers said in a statement.
“At about 11pm, on January 14, 2019, police and army officers randomly carried out door-to-door raids around Mabvuku high density suburb.
“During the raids, uniformed members of the police and the army forced their way into homes by breaking doors and windows.
“Having gained access, they proceeded to randomly assault some occupants and, in some instances, forced residents out of their homes.”
Yesterday, some Gweru residents also reported that soldiers were conducting raids randomly beating residents after Choppies in Mkoba 6 was reportedly burnt down and looted by protestors.
The soldiers were alleged to be randomly targeting homes attacking innocent civilians.
“At least more than 15 people have reached out to confirm these attacks and there have been similar reports in Chitungwiza.
“…on January 15, 2018, ZLHR continued to receive further reports that this illegal operation was still going on.”
People were also severely assaulted while being forced to remove barricades which protesters had used to block the roads.
Some people who were assaulted and shot by the police and soldiers were en route home from work, while others were conducting their daily business during the shutdown.
Both women and men were allegedly fleeing their homes, unable to get medical attention as soldiers were preventing all movement by civilians.
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said scores had sustained gunshot wounds while some deaths were recorded in Bulawayo, Marondera and Kadoma where victims sustained gunshot wounds.
“It is clear that the police are failing to fulfil their obligation of investigating first before arresting any suspects as provided in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
“Further, section 50(1)(a) of the Constitution states that anyone who is placed under arrest must be advised of the reason(s) of arrest and all suspects must be subjected to human treatment as provided in section 50(1)(c) of the Constitution,” the rights lawyers said.
Other reports also showed that the army was using helicopters to drop tear gas canisters in residential areas where there were massive protests. Daily News