A recent report by Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (The Forum) says at least one thousand, two hundred and two (1 202) politically motivated human rights violations were committed between the period of 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.
The consolidated statistics relate to assault, torture, unlawful arrests, abductions, intimidation, discrimination, extra-judicial killings and theft during the COVID-19 induced lockdown which was enforced by the security forces.
In the majority of reported incidents, civilians were assaulted with blunt objects, sjamboks and baton sticks for allegedly violating the national lockdown regulations.
The majority of the assaults related to the breach of social distancing requirements, particularly where individuals would form a single file to access basic commodities.
Among the leading crimes which were allegedly committed by state security agents was the violation of the right to personal security.
The Forum said members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and Municipality Police Officers from different cities were the leading perpetrators but they were not charged for it
“Violations of the right to personal security, particularly through assault, were perpetrated with impunity under the guise of enforcing the COVID-19 national lockdown regulations. With total disregard for the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes freedom from all forms of violence from public or private sources, Zimbabweans were left at the mercy of security forces especially during the imposed 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew,” the report reads.
Most of the victims were mainly from high-density suburbs across Zimbabwe, including Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo and Masvingo.
The report further states that citizens were also assaulted for gatherings deemed political such as protests and collective job action. ‘
“Apart from the assaults, citizens were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, particularly at police/military checkpoints and police transport vehicles.
“In reported incidences, citizens were instructed to crawl on their bellies, sing praise songs to the President and security forces. Citizens also sustained various degrees of injuries including broken limbs as a result of the assaults, “The Forum said.
The Forum documented seven (7) cases of extra-judicial killings from April to September 2020. On 24 May 2020, it was reported that police officers shot and killed Paul Munakopa (34), following a high-speed motor vehicle chase.
Munakopa, who was in the company of his girlfriend, Tracy Mufudzi, died a few minutes after being admitted to United Bulawayo Hospital (UBH).
Reportedly, the pair was parked in a city suburb, when police and members of the neighbourhood watch committee confronted them in an unmarked Toyota Prado vehicle. The family of the late Munakopa has since demanded an investigation into the cause of his death.
During the days leading up to 31 July 2020, anti-riot police officers, soldiers and other un-identified State security agents raided the houses of opposition party supporters, journalists, labour leaders and pro-democracy activists.
In most of the cases, police officers did not have search warrants or warrants of arrests authorising their activities. In the process, property such as windows and doors were destroyed. In total, six cases of unlawful raids were reported nationally.