31 January 2013

Zimbabwe: 15 Injured After Soldiers Run Amok in Chiadzwa

15 people have been left injured after a group of soldiers ran amok at Tenda village in Chiadzwa, beating up residents and stealing phones.

The attack was reported late Tuesday night. According to the Zimbabwe Peace Project the incident started at Tenda Business Centre where "some visibly drunk soldiers in civilian clothes fought over women."

"The scuffles went further into the night until the police were called in and arrested one soldier while another escaped," the Peace Project reported.

The soldier who escaped then went back to the Chipindirwe Army base where he reportedly told other soldiers that one of their members had been abducted by "Makorokoza" and Mbada Diamond workers who were drinking at the business centre.

The group then descended on the village and started attacking people, dragging them out of their homes and beating them.

One of victims of the attack said soldiers broke into her house in the early hours of Wednesday morning and dragged her into the street. The Peace Project said she was severely assaulted with rifle butts, sticks and booted feet before soldiers "forced her and more than thirty others to roll, for about fifty metres."

Another survivor reported that he was sleeping when the armed soldiers broke down his door and started beating him. He said they "beat him up with sticks and rifle butts as well."

"He and others were ordered to lie horizontally on the ground where they were heavily assaulted and were made to sing revolutionary songs," the Peace Project said.

The soldiers accused the villagers of "harbouring criminals" and demanded that they produce the 'abducted' soldier.

The soldiers eventually left but returned on Wednesday afternoon and confiscated cell phones from anyone they met. They claimed that people were using cell phones to inform police and others outside Chiadzwa about their actions.

The attack comes just two months after 40 people were injured when soldiers went on the rampage in Zhombe, where an MDC-T rally was taking place. At least five people were hospitalised after that attack which saw the soldiers beat people with sticks, knobkerries and booted feet.

The same incident also saw the soldiers confiscating cell phones, which were burnt along with MDC-T t-shirts and posters.

Sadly, the two incidents are not isolated and an internet search for past stories on 'rampaging' Zimbabwean soldiers saw scores of results, with reports on attacks as recently as December last year, and as far back as 2000. Despite this, there has still been no attempt to rein in the security forces and there is no sign of the reforms needed in this sector that were promised by the Global Political Agreement.

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