Soldiers go berserk, beat up revellers in Harare, Chitungwiza

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By Chris Mahove

MEMBERS of the Zimbabwe National Army went on a rampage Thursday evening, indiscriminately beating up revellers in some Harare and Chitungwiza high density suburbs.

The abuses came few hours before the official announcement of the presidential election results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

In Harare’s Dzivarasekwa suburb, witnessed beatings at New Members Bar shortly after 10 pm on Thursday.

The close to a dozen servicemen stormed the bar through a rear entrance and ordered everyone to lie on their stomachs before beating the puzzled revellers with sjamboks, clenched fists and booted feet.

“I was on my way out of the bar when they suddenly burst in and ordered everyone to lie down,” said Frank Barreta, a reveller who frequents the drinking spot.

“I tried to resist and force my way out but they dragged me back inside and started beating me with a sjambok all over my body.”

Barreta said the soldiers were “ruthless”.

Moments before the attack, a concerned citizen had rushed into the bar to alert revellers of the pending danger but the warnings were ignored.

Outside the bar, people were forced to scurry in all directions on noticing they were about to get into trouble.

It further emerged the soldiers were also coming from another bar within the same area where they had also beaten up revellers before ordering the closure of the bar.

The soldiers were accusing the residents of having taken part in riotous scene that erupted in the city centre Wednesday afternoon.

Another reveller, Simbarashe Dzapasi said he was tripped to the ground before being kicked all over with booted feet. He, however, said he had no visible injuries although he was still feeling some pain.

It was also reported that soldiers also beat up revellers in Glen View and Chitungwiza.

Reached for comment, Zimbabwe Defence Forces spokesperson, Overson Mugwisi said he was not aware of any army deployments in high density areas.

“I am not aware of any such deployments in that area but if it was part of the elections operations, then it was not the ZDF in charge of such operations,” he said, referring further questions to Police Spokesperson Charity Charamba.

Despite the denials by Mugwisi, the army was Friday evening still said to beating up people in Kuwadzana and forcing bars to close early.

Soldiers on Wednesday allegedly fired live ammunition at hordes of Harare youths who took to the streets to protest the MDC Alliance’s electoral loss to Zanu PF in Monday’s election.

Six were killed while several were wounded as a result of the beatings.