Editorial Comment: Army victims deserve justice 

Source: Editorial Comment: Army victims deserve justice – The Standard February 10, 2019

A fortnight after President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to bring to book soldiers behind the wave of human rights violations that included murder, rape and abduction of civil society as well opposition activists, police areas yet to account for the people behind those heinous crimes.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces finally admitted last week that soldiers were deployed throughout the country following violent demonstrations triggered by a steep increase in the price of fuel and many expected that justice would be delivered for citizens that were brutalised during the crackdown.

After days of government denials that soldiers were behind the violence, Mnangagwa on January 28 tweeted that he was “appalled” after watching a video by the United Kingdom’s Sky TV showing three security details abusing a Harare man during the January 14 protests.

Mnangagwa said the behaviour by a soldier and two police officers was not the “Zimbabwean way”.

The president told the world that he had instructed that the individuals behind the abuse be arrested.

Police, who initially claimed that the video was shot in 2016 before admitting that the footage was authentic, announced the arrest of a Constable Makumire and claimed a breakthrough had been made in investigations into the criminal activity.

That was the last time Zimbabweans ever heard about Makumire’s case and police have been mum since then about the fate of the soldier and police officer that were also captured in the video.

The security forces have tried hard to disassociate themselves from the criminal activities, which they blame on alleged rogue elements.

As expected, the government has deployed the pliable state-controlled media to try and delegitimise the cases of alleged rape and murder by spewing out morbid propaganda against the victims.

However, the truth continues to come out in dribs and drabs as the courts deal with cases of over 1 000 people arrested for alleged public violence and looting during the protests.

The victims have had harrowing tales to tell about their experience at the hands of the army.

On the other hand, investigations by human rights organisations have revealed the devastating impact of the army deployment with the latest report by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum stating that as much as 17 people were killed during the mayhem.

Over 80 people are nursing gunshot wounds.

The government has been working overtime to discredit reports that soldiers raped a number of women at the height of the crackdown, but the Forum in its report notes that it received evidence affirming the allegations against the security forces.

The report says most of the alleged rape cases were from Harare, particularly Epworth and Hopley.

Mnangagwa owes it to the victims to ensure that he keeps his word that justice would be delivered for the victims.

The president has to start walking the talk on such important matters otherwise history will judge him harshly.