Will the Zimbabwean Soldiers Who Raped and Killed citizens during last month’s riots face justice?

At least 12 people are said to have died when security forces opened fire on civilians during a three-day shutdown called by unions after a fuel price rise last month. One police officer is believed to have been killed. The death toll is said to be on the rise as more of those injured are dying due to lack of medical attention weeks after the riots.

The violence that rocked Zimbabwe mid January, is said to be the worst in the country for at least a decade and has dashed any remaining hopes that the end of the 37-year rule of the autocratic leader Robert Mugabe 14 months ago would lead to significant political reform.

The prominent question amongst Zimbabweans and the international community is what will happen to the soldiers who wantonly rapped women and brutalised citizens? Many Zimbabweans see no hope in justice being served and have lost all hope in the justice system.

Most Zimbabweans believe that the actions of the military were sanctioned from the very top office in the land and as such these soldiers were acting under instructions and the objective was to intimidate and instil fear in citizens.

A popular British newspaper has claimed that internal Zimbabwean police documents passed to them suggest the army has been responsible for murder, rape and armed robbery during the ongoing brutal crackdown in Zimbabwe.

In more than a dozen investigation reports shared with the Media by police officials frustrated at the apparent impunity of the military, a series of alleged attacks are described, including two murders and the rape of a 15-year-old girl.
Police investigators wrote that all the acts were committed by men wearing army “uniforms” or “camouflage” – a style of wording allowing the police to avoid making direct accusations against the powerful military.

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Officially, the Zimbabwe Republic police, the national police force, has blamed the violence on criminal “rogue elements” who have stolen army uniforms, and said the charges of widespread abuses by security and the armed forces have been fabricated. But in most cases described in the documents seen by this publication, the assailants carried automatic weapons, which few people other than soldiers and police possess.

What will president Mnangagwa do about these rouge elements? His action is highly anticipated. This following the August 1st shootings which left 6 people dead after the army used live ammunition on civilians after last year’s elections.

President Mnangagwa appointed a commission led by former South African President Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe. The commission’s report was widely seen as a whitewash, as it failed to place blame for the killings on anyone in particular.

Will we see yet another commission?

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