By Darlington Gatsi
THE 1st of August 2018 will remain one of the darkest days in post-Independence Zimbabwe after six unarmed civilians were fatally shot by army officers in broad daylight.
A dark cloud enveloped Harare as the military brazenly shot unarmed civilians in an effort to quell protests against the delayed announcement of the 2018 Presidential election results.
Opposition supporters had stormed the streets, registering their displeasure against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s delay.
For Allison Charles, the day is a stark reminder of how her brother ‘s life was ended prematurely and in broad daylight.
The 48-year old Gavin Dean Charles was among six civilians that perished on the fateful day.
Just mentioning her brother’s name triggers indescribable emotions for Charles who failed to hold back tears as she recounted the painful experience of seeing her brother dead, his body riddled with bullets.
Charles continues to seek answers about the unfortunate death of her brother.
“I still do not like to talk about it; it’s still a very painful thing to talk about,” she said.
“It is still very raw. He left a daughter who is still in high school. She does not have a father now to back her up and pay her school fees.
“It is not about money, it is about moral support that we had. They took her father away from her and there has been nothing done. It is four years down the line and no one has even apologised to the family.”
The controversial shootings were a major setback for President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was desperate to cleanse the country’s image which had been tainted under former leader Robert Mugabe.
Prior to the elections which were first since the ouster of Robert Mugabe, President Mnangagwa had pledged to set the country a new trajectory, free from violence.
Bowing down to pressure after calls to investigate the shootings, President Mnangagwa established a commission of inquiry to probe the shootings headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe.
The commission released its report with the military being incriminated in the shootings.
Among recommendations by the Motlanthe Commission was the establishment of the fund by the Government to compensate families of the deceased.
Charles believes the Mothlante headed commission was a waste of time as it has failed to bring closure and healing to her family.
“Nothing has happened; nothing real, nothing solid has happened. We just sit and wait.We went to the masters office and we put the beneficiaries names down which is my niece but nothing has been done since,” said.
In their push for justice, the Charles family approached the courts to no avail as the High Court threw away their case.
Facing a similar predicament, Maxwell Tauro who lost his son, Challenge Tauro, in the shootings wishes for the full hand of law to catch up with the perpetrators of the shootings.
“Until now, it is still painful to understand what happened with Challenge.,” said Tauro.
“There are people back home who are doing rites on the graves of their relatives but I can not do that on Chellenge’s grave because I cannot afford it. He was a breadwinner, someone I could depend on. Life has been on a stand still since then.
“The last time Government got in touch with us was when we appeared before the Mothlanthe Commission and since then there has been nothing.”
To crank up pressure on the government to implement the recommendations from the Commission, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has written to Mothlanthe.
“The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has engaged victims of the August 1, 2018 shootings and relatives of the deceased and it came out during the engagements that there is lack of political will by the government to implement the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry recommendations
“In light of this challenge we have also engaged His Excellency, Kgalema Motlanthe raising our concern over the stance by the Zimbabwean government,” said Peter Mutasa, CiZC chairman.