By Habakkuk Trust
Concerns have been raised over the fast deteriorating human rights situation in Bulawayo that has culminated in abductions and torture of citizens. Bulawayo has since become an epicenter of arrests and abductions of political and civic activists alleged to be linked to demonstrations that were scheduled for the 31st of July.
Security forces over the weekend descended with a heavy arm on protestors who staged one-man demonstrations in the City. There are confirmed reports of ongoing abductions by the state security apparatus targeting dissenting voices. The abductions and arrests, which are reportedly carried out at odd hours of the night, have been further necessitated by the Covid-19 induced curfew.
As part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, President Mnangagwa announced a raft of measures among which a 6pm- 6am curfew was put in place. Citizens are however confused as to whether the curfew is in place for public health reasons or its for political reasons.
As from Thursday the 30th of July to date, 12 citizens have been arrested. Some family members of those on the “wanted” list were forcibly taken into custody for reasons that have not been made public.
Tawanda Muchehiwa, cousin to renowned journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu was released days after his abduction where he experienced serious assault and inhuman treatment after the security details failed to get Mathuthu at his place of residence. Another victim, Ottilia Sibanda was abducted and dumped in the bush. Homes of Mthulisi Hanana, Patricia Tshabalala, Swithern Chirowodza were raided while others including Muzingaye Thaka, Nigel Ndlovu, and his colleague Nyasha William Gwazemba and Lilyen Muzabwa were arrested.
The security forces who are supposed to protect citizens have been cited as the chief perpetrators of gross human rights violations.
Abductions and arrests are still continuing in the City. There is a heavy police and military presence in most suburbs in response to the pending demonstrations. Citizens still have to produce exemption letters at checkpoints in order to gain access to the CBD.