Seven people lost their lives in Zimbabwe on Wednesday, August 1, when the military opened fire on protesters in the streets of the capital, Harare. Opposition supporters had come out to protest the long wait for the election results, which they feared were being manipulated.
At the weekend, friends and relatives of those who had died in the clashes gathered to mourn their loved ones.
Draped in white lace and accompanied by mourners crying and singing, Sylvia Maphosa’s coffin was heaved into the funeral van. “She was killed by the criminals in the government,” one man cried through a car window, as the convoy made its way to the cemetery.
Maphosa, a civil servant, was shot in the back. She was trying to make her way home after leaving her office at the Zimbabwe National Water Authority in Harare’s city center. According to her family’s lawyer, police initially recorded the cause of her death as a stab wound. After protest from her family, the police corrected it to gunshot wound. Apart from the man in the car, however, nobody at the funeral talked about who was to blame for her death.
Ishmael Kumire, a vegetable seller and father of four, had a similar fate. “He was standing five meters from me and suddenly I heard gunshots. I thought they were firing rubber bullets,” Kumire’s brother-in-law Ignatius Neshava said. According to him, Kumire even supported the ruling party. He had been trying to protect his goods when the soldiers came.
Mnangagwa reacts to the deaths
President Emmerson Mnangagwa called the deaths of the seven people a tragedy and called for an independent investigation into Wednesday’s events. At the same time, however, he blamed the opposition for the protests.
Some 23 members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been arrested and are being charged with “committing public violence” during the protests. A bail hearing is set to take place on Monday.
“They are facing charges of inciting public violence and we want them released without any conditions or on bail. There is nothing linking them to the commission of any offense,” said Gift Mtisi from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
The main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa (MDC), maintains that he rejects the election results. Chamisa argued that he had for strategic reasons not yet released the evidence for these claims.