Police appeal for information on shutdown army abuses

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By Anna Chibamu

POLICE Tuesday placed an appeal for any information that could lead to possible prosecutions on elements within the country’s armed forces linked to fierce abuses on alleged anti-government protesters past two weeks.

The country’s armed forces reacted with brute force after wild skirmishes rocked Harare, Bulawayo and some urban centres in the country during a three-day job stay away called labour groups and citizen movements 14-16 January this year.

At least 12 deaths arising from the state crackdown have been confirmed amid reports of rampant assaults, rape and torture against civilians.

After first taking a casual approach towards complaints of rampant abuses by security forces, the Zanu PF led government has felt the heat after reports of rampant abuses have spilled onto the international domain.

However, in what could be construed as an attempt to save face, government, though police, has urged those caught up in the abuses to report to the police.

At a press briefing in Harare Tuesday, Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba appeared unimpressed by media reports which have linked the state to the rampant abuses with no attempts to seek remedies through legal channels.

“We have invited the media to set the record straight with regards to alleged abuse, assault and rape by security forces.

“Unfortunately, the alleged reports have not been brought to the attention of police to allow investigations to be conducted by police,” Charamba said.

Despite abuses that have seen dozens treated for gunshot wounds and rape complaints, it has emerged that only one person has so far reported a case of rape.

Many other women and girls have chosen to endure their pain in fear or lack of confidence the current system could assist them.

In one extreme case among many, soldiers would allegedly ask their rape victims to bath so that the next one would have his turn to commit the heinous crime.

Social media was awash with videos of women who were allegedly raped by soldiers but it took government almost two weeks to accept responsibility after an international outcry.

Charamba dismissed reports by journalists that police took some time without responding to the abuse.

She also denied cases of bullying insisting the rape allegation at St Mary’s, Chitungwiza was under investigation.