Army killings: Families relive agony

Army killings: Families relive agony

A mother of one of the victims of the August 1 army shootings is yet to know about the death of her son.

Source: Army killings: Families relive agony – The Standard October 21, 2018


Gavin Dean Charles’ mother has not been told that her son was one of the seven people suspected to have died when soldiers opened fire on protestors in central Harare because her family fears the news could complicate her health.

Charles sister Elizabeth Robertson told the commission of inquiry investigating the killings and is led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe that her brother’s death had traumatised the family.

Robertson said Charles was gunned down in cold blood by the same people he joined on the streets on November 18, 2017 to celebrate the fall of former president Robert Mugabe.

“He danced and joined everyone on November 18, thinking that things had changed, that the new Zimbabwe had been born,” she said while shedding tears.

“As a minority community, we thought that we would finally find our place in Zimbabwe, but nothing has changed.

“My brother was shot twice in the pelvis and shoulder by the same people whom he joined on the streets.”

She told the commission that Charles was a Rastafarian who also believed in God and was not a member of any political party.

Robertson said her brother was not part of the demonstrations, which rocked Harare as protestors demanded the release of the July 30 presidential elections.

“He was born prematurely and as a result he grew up with love around him,” she said.

“He was not violent and did not take part in any political activities.

“As a minority group, we do not take part in political activities because we have not had any representation in those areas.

“He was not armed but was shot dead. We can’t tell our mom because it could kill her.”

Robertson said there was an attempt to hide the cause of Charles death with a postmortem report showing that he had died of stab wounds.

The cause of death was changed after the family raised questions.

Tinei Zhuwao, who lost his brother Brain during the shootings, said the airtime vendor was a Zanu PF supporter who had nothing to do with the protests.

He said his brother was shot in the leg from behind as he ran away from soldiers who were using live ammunition to disperse demonstrators.

The commission was told of an alleged plot by government officials to cover up for the deaths and further suppress the numbers of those gunned down by the army.

Ignatius Neshava the brother -in-law of the late Ishmail Kumire who was gunned down close to Copacabana claimed that he saw more than eight bodies in the aftermath of the shooting.

“The police initially said three people had been killed on the spot, but I know six people were shot dead in the streets and others died in hospital like my brother-in-law,” Neshava said.

“When we were at Parirenyatwa Hospital, we saw eight bodies of people that had been shot.

“At Harare Hospital there were other bodies, but the official voice of government has kept that number at six.”

Neshava said Kumire, who sold fruits and other food items on the streets, was wearing Zanu PF regalia when he was shot at close range.

“He was shot and he fell on my feet,” he said. “Initially I did not realise that he had been shot.

“I thought he had been tripped and fell because we were just standing next to his truck carrying fruits while waiting for the soldiers to pass.”

Doctors at Parirenyatwa Hospital have been accused by relatives of five deceased persons of trying to misrepresent that victims of the shootings died of stab wounds.

Neshava said after relatives exposed the ploy to tamper with postmortem results, doctors claimed it was a mistake by Cuban doctors.

“We noticed that the postmortem had been signed by one Masango and we then asked how a Masango could have come from Cuba,” he said.

Maxwell Taurai father of another vendor killed during the shootings said his son was killed by the army as he tried to flee the commotion caused by the military intervention.

He also told the inquiry that more than six people could have been killed in the demonstrations because he sawa number of dead bodies as he was looking for his son.

Zanu PF employee Zivanai Mugwira who had his car reduced to ashes said the protestors appeared to be highly trained and sophisticated people because they managed to drive his car without keys.

He said the manner in which protestors attacked the Harare Provincial Zanu PF offices, was well-co-ordinated and showed that there was planning; reconnaissance and skill on the part of the demonstrations whom he alleged were from the MDC Alliance.

MDC youth Secretary Lovemore Chinoputsa claimed that members of the military intelligence could have been part of the protestors as the protests appeared to be well-co-ordinated.