via Hwange police use force to break up peaceful demo | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda on Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Witnesses are reporting a disproportionate response by the police in Hwange, who used brutal force to break up a peaceful demonstration by over 100 women in the colliery town on Monday.
The women, mostly wives of workers at the Hwange Colliery Company, were seeking to stage a demonstration at the management offices of the company when riot police intercepted them.
Police fired teargas and used batons to disperse the women, who were accompanied by children during the march to the management offices. The protesting women were demanding outstanding salaries and allowances for their spouses, who have not been paid for the last five months.
It is the nature of the police action that has sparked debate in the town where tension remain very high. There is still a large presence of police details on the streets.
According to a workers representative in the mining town, who asked to remain anonymous, members of the riot squad were abusive towards the women and promised to ‘deal’ with them because of the way people in Hwange voted in the July elections. The Hwange central parliamentary seat was won by the MDC-T’s Brian Tshuma.
‘What was very disturbing about the police was when they sang revolutionary songs linked to ZANU PF. They called the women ‘vapanduki’ (sellouts) and told them ‘nyika ino yakauya neropa’ (blood was shed for Zimbabwe to attain its independence).
‘Without further warning the riot police fired teargas into the crowd and started chasing the women along the streets. Some of those who fell to the ground in the commotion bore the brunt of the police brutality,’ the workers representative said.
The workers representative told SW Radio Africa’Speak Out program on Tuesday that those who failed to get away were made to roll on the tarmac while the police beat them up with baton sticks.
‘A pregnant woman suffered a miscarriage when she was beaten on the stomach and forced to roll on the tarmac. Another suffered a massive cut on the forehead and is still hospitalized.
‘This was meant to be a peaceful protest. They were not carrying stones or swords here,’ he said.
Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme said after breaking off the protest the armed police visited the homes of known MDC-T activists and picked them up.
‘I understand a couple of MDC-T members were locked up in police cells yesterday (Monday) and police want to charge them with inciting the women to demonstrate against the colliery company,’ Saungweme said.