MORE than 1000 residents in Bulawayo have been subjected to torture and assault orchestrated by the military and police ever since the shutdown protests begane, the Matabeleland Collective, a network of civil society organisation and churches based in the city has revealed.
Presenting their findings on Friday, chairperson of the grouping Jennifer Williams said human rights violations were mostly recorded in Mabuthweni, Iminyela, Emganwini and Entumbane Townships in Bulawayo.
“After kicking the doors open, groups of soldiers and police demanded all males child to come out of their homes and lay down on their stomachs and be thoroughly beaten and threatened for ‘allegedly killing a police officer or sending their children to loot,” read part of the report.
“We estimate that more than 1000 residents were subjected to this treatment despite there being two people in remand prison charged with the death of the police officer. Toddlers, sisters and mothers watched their male relative beaten in horror. Whilst they went door to door these suburbs they also targeted anyone along the way found outdoors after 7pm as if there is an official curfew”.
Williams said the collective is concerned that police officers during the #shutdown became preoccupied with stopping possible protest action and failed to play their peacekeeping role, which culminated in escalated human rights violations.
“Police failed to protect citizens and businesses when looting began in most suburbs. The social unrest was characterised by indiscriminate action on the part of police including reckless use of tear gas, arbitrary arrests of over 500 people, beatings, abductions and inaction as looting began in most suburbs of the city,” she said.
The Matabeleland collective said it was concerned that the state through army and police, has violated the fundamental rights embedded in the constitution.
“We take full cognizance 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, 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. Police must respect their constitutional mandate to stand for the protection of every citizen rights to move freely and in peace in their homes.”