While social media is awash with claims of ordinary women being raped by people in military fatigue in the crackdown currently underway in the aftermath of the violent protests that left a trail of destruction and some eight people dead according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, activists who are normally the first to raise the red flag have denied any such reports exists.
Some human rights activists claim the rape cases are mainly concentrated in Bulawayo but prominent activists from that part of the country have rejected these claims effectively raising the specter of an agenda to attract international attention.
Rape reports emerged after the army was controversially deployed to deal with protestors during a violent three-day-mass-stay-away called for by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions from January 14 to 16.
The protest called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions from the 14-16th January turned into an orgy of violence forcing government to deploy the military amid reports.
Jennifer William, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) director posted on her microblogging twitter site that despite widespread reports of alleged rape by the military, she has failed to get evidence.
“Rape has no place in our society and I would be first to shout about it but I prefer to see for myself the victim so I can also give practical support. So far since yesterday we have not verified rape incidents in Bulawayo,” William wrote.
Another Bulawayo based human rights activist, Zenzele Ndebele also said he also checked with some organisations in Bulawayo but failed to ascertain the truth with regards to the reports.
“I have checked with a number of organisations and noone seems to know about this case. I always checked with a few teachers at the school and they are not aware,” Ndebele wrote on his Twitter handle.
But former Education Minister David Coltart had claimed government was using rape as part of tactics to quell the protests.
“This regime has indeed crossed the red line by employing rape. As I have been writing for over a week now crimes against humanity are being committed the world needs to wake up,” the former Cabinet Minister and senior opposition leader said.
On the other hand police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said authorities were yet to receive any complaints or reports of rape by the army.
“We are waiting for complainants but up to now no one has come forward. We cannot investigate rape without a complainant.
“If they don’t want to report direct to police there are institutions they can use including our victim friendly units all over the country. We are ready to deal with such cases,” said Charamba.