Zimbabwe soldiers accused of beatings amid protest crackdown

Map showing Zimbabwe and Zambia
Map showing Zimbabwe and Zambia

Soldiers beat people overnight on the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital and its second city, Bulawayo, residents said, hours after President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to investigate a security service crackdown on anti-government protesters.

There was no immediate comment from the military, which kept up patrols and checkpoints on Wednesday.

The president’s spokesman appeared to back the security services’ handling of protests which he described as a challenge to the state’s authority.

“The state has an obligation to demonstrate that it exists to ensure law and order and that’s exactly what happened,” George Charamba said.

Last week, he said the crackdown was a foretaste of what would happen to future demonstrations.

Japhet Moyo, Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions, which called a strike last week that turned into protests, was charged with subversion and will be detained until Jan. 28, his lawyer said.


SGF Campaign AD

Lawyers and activists say police and soldiers have killed at least 12 people, wounded scores and arrested hundreds since the protests began 10 days ago following a hike in fuel prices.

Police say three people died during the unrest.

Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has accused security forces of systematic torture, raising fears that the country is reverting to the authoritarianism that characterised the rule of Mr Mnangagwa’s predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

Residents in two Harare townships and a neighbourhood in Bulawayo said soldiers beat people walking in the streets on Tuesday night.

“Soldiers just appeared in a truck and started beating up people at the shopping centre. They told everyone to go home and sleep,” said one resident from Glen Norah township in Harare.

Mother-of-two Thabitha Mpofu said some of the security services out in Bulawayo’s Mpopoma area wore black ski masks.

“I saw them beating pedestrians last night. People are now scared to go out at night.”


SGF Campaign AD

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said it received similar reports from Bulawayo and that a woman was arrested by detectives in the capital’s Kuwadzana township on Tuesday night and accused of preparing food for protesters.

Mr Mnangagwa had promised earlier on Tuesday to investigate the security services’ actions against anti-government protesters and called for a “national dialogue” with churches, civil society and the opposition.

Zimbabwe’s legal system was also in focus on Wednesday as a court postponed a bail hearing by activist pastor Evan Mawarire.

Mr Mawarire, who rose to prominence as a critic of Mr Mugabe’s rule, was arrested last Wednesday and charged with inciting violence to subvert the government – an offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The pastor, who is being held in Harare’s Chikurubi Maximum Prison, said in his written bail application: “I aver that to peacefully challenge that the government should address the economic challenges is permissible under the constitution.”

State prosecutors argued that they needed more time to prepare their case and the hearing was adjourned until Friday.

On Wednesday, Mr Mnangagwa swore in a new prosecutor general, Kumbirai Hodzi – a candidate widely criticised by the opposition after he told an interviewing panel in 2018 that he took instructions from the executive when deciding whom to prosecute.

Mr Mnangagwa promised during campaigning for the July 2018 presidential vote to repair the economy and break with Mr Mugabe’s politics.

With high inflation and a shortage of cash in circulation eroding ordinary Zimbabweans’ spending power, the fragile state of the economy is at the heart of the country’s political troubles. (Reuters/NAN)

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.


NEVER MISS A THING AGAIN! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required


Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD: This space is available for a Text_Ad.. Call Willie on +2347088095401 for more information

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.