#Shutdownzim crackdown renews old wounds- Civic groups

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Bulawayo-Matabeleland Collective, a network of Civil Society Organisations and Churches based in Bulawayo has said the night-time indiscriminate mass beatings of civilians in high density areas by members of the national army and police after the #Shutdownzim protest fortifies the Gukurahundi trauma which led to the death of more than 20 000 civilians in Matebeleland after the Independence.

The organisation said civilians are being harassed by State apparatus on the aftermath of social unrest and protests on January 14 to 23 caused by the announcement of fuel price of more than 100 percent by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Addressing the media last week Jenni Williams, the organisation’s spokesperson said soldiers should resist from abusing civilians with the pretext of peace keeping.

“The Collective note that residents participated in destruction of property, looting of goods and hooligans took the opportunity to terrorise citizens attempting to get to the safety of their homes. Events at the beginning of that fateful week led to the unfortunate death of more than six residents including one police officer. It is sad to note that the death of the police officer, hooliganism, rape, theft and mayhem led in part to deployment of the military armed with live ammunition within our city ready to shoot or beat first and never ask questions or investigate for true criminal behavior,” she said.

She added:

“We take full cognisance that the level of social unrest was only surpassed by the Gukurahundi Campaign of early 1980s where high density suburbs were cordoned off and police and soldiers went door to door beating and arresting people. However, in this day and age the collective expected principles of peace and democracy to prevail and that Police would respect their constitutional mandate to stand for the protection of every citizen rights to move freely and in peace in their homes.”

She said  it was worrying to note verified reports that heavily armed police and soldiers went door to door indiscriminately assaulting citizens at the dead of night .

The high density suburbs which have been affected mostly are Mabuthweni, Iminyela, Emganwini, Emakhandeni and Entumbane, she claims.

“We are concerned that the state especially the army and the police have violated the fundamental rights embedded in the Constitution especially ‘freedoms from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Furthermore, there are violation of rights to free movement, expression and association with the freedom of movement severely compromised in most high density suburbs.

The government should allow the Police to carry out their duties in accordance with the constitution of Zimbabwe and to send the Soldiers back to their barracks. They should also immediately stop the night-time and other unlawful raids on people’s homes and indiscriminate beating of citizens

We also call on Mnangagwa to realise that citizens of Zimbabwe have had enough – all economic reforms result in more burdens minute by minute including the 2% Tax and fuel hike. Citizens need platforms to engage their Government if there is to be a unity of purpose to deal with economic recovery. Give Citizens a platform so they don’t have to resort to criminal behaviour to bring relief to their poverty,” said Williams.

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