Reports of terror, torture after second Zim internet shutdown

This protester was allegedly sjambokked during the current government crackdown taking place in Zimbabwe. Picture: ANA

This protester was allegedly sjambokked during the current government crackdown taking place in Zimbabwe. Picture: ANA

Protesters speak of being bludgeoned with blunt objects and tortured with hot metal rods, while two allegedly each had had a finger cut off.

Zimbabwe’s internet connection was partially restored today at around 4pm after state security minister Owen Ncube on Wednesday night again ordered a total shutdown.

After the internet connection blackout order, Econet Wireless, the biggest mobile network operator in the country, sent a message to its customers, which read:

“At 22:05, 17/01/19, we were served with another directive for a total shutdown of the internet until further notice. Our lawyers advised we are required to comply with the directive pending the court’s decision on its legality. The earlier directives are already the subject of a pending High Court application. We sincerely apologise for all inconveniences caused by the acts of government, which are beyond our reasonable control.”

Government ordered a shutdown of internet services in the country following violent protests since Monday after fuel price hikes, the worsening economy and a 2% tax on mobile money transactions.

With social media connectivity blocked, protesters have been brutalised – allegedly by state security agents – with harrowing tales of torture and eye gouging being narrated.

The protesters speak of being bludgeoned with blunt objects and tortured with hot metal rods.

Two suspected protesters at a medical clinic in the capital said that each had had a finger cut off.

Another victim said soldiers would either teargas them out of their homes or kick down doors to gain entry and drag away children as young as 11.

Norman, who stays in Domboshava, said soldiers went door-to-door beating men and young boys.

“They didn’t realise I was there as I had locked myself in my house. They passed and went to the next house. They beat up a boy who was around 11 years so badly,” he said.

In high-density suburbs, many said they were made to roll in flowing sewage, with the lucky ones escaping into thick bushes, maize fields or mountains.

For the unlucky, they said it would take “forever” for their mental scars to heal.

“It was a dragnet. They didn’t care and never listened to anyone. Men, women, children all fell victim to the soldiers’ barbaric acts. We now fear returning to our homes,” another victim of the brutality said.

Another man in his 30s said he was made to touch hot tyre wires, which scalded his hands.

Besides the nine people who died in the streets, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights yesterday said of the injured they had received, five had died, making the number of known deaths rise to 14.

In a statement today, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said it had noted the human rights violations with concern since the beginning of the protests.

NGO Forum said it had recorded 844 human rights violations, with 12 deaths and 78 injuries from gunshots.

Hundreds of civic society leaders and political activists have gone into hiding.

By late this evening, more roadblocks were being set up on most roads leading into the capital. African News Agency noticed the military was maintaining a heavy presence in most high-density suburbs.

African News Agency (ANA)

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.




today in print