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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 10:36 GMT
Eyewitness: Zimbabwe torture victim
Zimbabwe torture victim
Hundreds of people say they were assaulted after the strike

Zimbabwe has seen hundreds of arrests since last week's strike, with allegations made of brutal treatment. Patricia, an official with the Movement for Democratic Change in Harare, told the BBC of her ordeal.

I was fast asleep at 1pm when I heard them knocking at my door. I thought they were thieves. The soldiers pushed the door open.

They were many, some were in civvies.

They had guns, ropes, baton sticks. They asked who Patricia was.

I said: "I am Patricia".

They took the urine from my kid and said: 'Drink it'
Patricia, MDC

They asked if I was the secretary of the MDC.

I said "Yes".

They said: "Bring your particulars of the MDC."

I said: "I don't have any."

'We want to kill her'

They said: "You are a prostitute of [MDC leader Morgan] Tsvangirai, so we are going to take this condom and put it on this gun and get it into you, because Tsvangirai is doing this to you and you enjoy having sex with him".

I told them I had never had sex with Tsvangirai and they said: "That is your boyfriend and you should suffer for this."

They put the gun inside me and they asked me if I was enjoying it.

Riot policeman in Harare flees stone-throwers
The strike was marred by violent incidents

I said: "It is painful."

They said: "It is not painful because when you have it with Tsvangirai you'll be smiling."

They forced me to make noises as though I was having sex with a man.

I did.

When my brother heard that I was being assaulted, he came out from his house to my room and said: "What is happening?"

He was told to shut up and was beaten and made to get into the toilet.

They opened the taps and water was running all over his body and asked: "Why are you living with this MDC person here? We want to kill her."

They started beating me up.

They took the urine from my kid and said: "Drink it."

I first refused but the way they were beating me and they wanted to put the gun again, so I had to drink it.

After drinking it, they said they wanted to see the urine flowing.

I said: "I don't have any urine."

They said: "We know you have it. You have to do it now before we kill you."

So I had to do the urine standing.

They said: "We want to see it flowing by your feet."

So I did.

I am afraid of meeting them again. I don't know what they will do.

They have already killed me.

I have to carry on. I just want revenge.

A selection of your personal experiences of political violence in Zimbabwe are published below.

I was also beaten up by the so called Zanu-PF thugs. My father was also beaten up and later complained of heartaches. After days he died. We were once kidnapped blindfolded and told to sing the Zanu-PF slogans.

Failure to do so would result in you being beaten up by Mugabe's thugs. Why cant anything be done about this. We are running away from our country just beacause of one man.

We cannot live like this we need to stand up and stop all the talking and act its time to make a change.

It was in August 2001 just when I had joined the MDC. A group of Zanu-PF youths came to my house at 0100.

They dragged me and my wife out of the house and beat me up in front of my two-year-old son. They burnt all our clothes and ransacked our house.

I felt so violated but could do nothing. My neighbours just watched as they beat me through till the early hours of the morning. I reported the matter to the police who arrested me and put me in jail for two days without any medical attention.

I was released on a Friday morning and was warned that what had happened was just a warning and if I still remained a member of the MDC they would kill me and my family. I made a quick decision - a wise one if I look at it now. I pooled up all my savings bought a ticket to the United States and fled.

Mugabe's regime made me leave the country that I love because I belonged to an opposition party. Nothing will change unless something is done. Mugabe must go. I cried when I read Patricia's story.

You only realise the horror of it when you have experienced how unruly Mugabe' regime has become. Because of that ordeal I cannot sleep peacefully at night. The trauma of it all is real and lives with me everyday.
Chris, US

I choose not to jeopardise myself by disclosing my name. All those who know the truth about Zimbabwe keep quiet. This is not because they want to but there is great danger there.

It can be calm during the day but you can be visited and kidnapped overnight and you will be history.

People would have revolted but fear keeps Zimbabwe calm. People are suffering beyond the Iraqis.

I witnessed people without nose, lips, and ears. If you visit areas in Matabeleland you will see it for yourself.
Moyo, Zimbabwe

Sometimes I think somehow GOD created humans differently. In some people, the space that is supposed to be occupied by a human heart there is a stone... I experienced one of the horrible things when I saw a young friend of mine losing teeth at the hands of the infamous green bombers.
Mwana, Zimbabwe

I was going home from college when i met the so-called Soldiers of Doom. I was asked where I was coming from at this time (around 7pm). I told them the truth but before I have finished I was already down being kicked and punched and all kinds of assault.

I cried but no-one heard me because all were hiding in their homes.

Fortunately I managed to run into the nearby fields and disappear.

To my surprise, that night, they came home and kicked my door open, took me out and demanded me to show them where MDC houses were.

I said I did not know but [they] took me in their car [and then left me and] covered me with a tent and drove off. Then it was the morning and I was in a forest around the city of Harare. I was helped by a commuter.

I'm afraid day and night. I don't know what to do. Please help me. I am seeking political asylum in your country. I no longer want the name Zimbabwe. Please help. Reply please.
Milton, Zimbabwe

Over three years ago when I was still in Zimbabwe I was attacked at a petrol station by three men. I managed to escape with minor injuries and made my way to the police station half a mile up the road. When explaining my ordeal to the police women, she started laughing at me and I knew at that moment that the future for all Zimbabweans was heading towards a no win situation.
Gary G., UK/Ex-Zim

I don't need any imagination to believe the accounts of torture, murder and mayhem in Zimbabwe. When Patricia talks about her ordeal, all I can do is pray for the bleeding country and hope that the monsters leading this regime will be brought to account soon.

When I read of the brutality visited on fellow lawyer Gugulethu Moyo, I do not need to believe her... I see it happening to her: because it happened to me.
Gabriel Shumba, Zimbabwe

I read this with tears in my eyes because on Sunday evening I witnessed my husband being beaten in front of me and my seven-year-old kid.

We had gone to visit our grandmother at Kuwadzana [Harare suburb].

As we waved them goodbye and got in the car and drove about three houses from that place there was a blue Mazda car parked in the middle of the road so my husband opened the window and kindly asked the guy in the car to move his car slightly forward so that we could pass. The next thing three soldiers came out and slapped my husband and forced him out of the car.

My son and I started crying and screaming at the same time and one of the soldiers advanced to my door. I took hold of my son as we watched my husband lying face down and being beaten by soldiers and the guys that I assume were part of the gang too - they kicked him, used batons and guns to hit him.

I felt useless - but I knew and had heard that the soldiers are capable of anything even raping - so I sat there crying and cursing God for letting my husband suffer like that.

After that they threw him back in the car and told him to drive - he was bleeding and I could not even look at him in the face as he struggled to drive the car.

We drove to town and reported our case at the police station and he got a document to go to Parirenyatwa hospital. We left the hospital in the early hours of Monday morning.

I wish to tell people that these things are happening and for the first time in my life I witnessed it with someone close to me.
Mazumbe, Zimbabwe

I am even afraid to write my account because i fear our secret intelligence police (CIO) might trace me using my ISP. But what happened to Patricia is true and is happening every night since the stay away. Soldiers are randomly beating up people leaving them for dead especially in high density areas.
DM, Zimbabwe

As a Zimbabwean I have also endured episodes of police and army brutality. At present I am nursing all sorts of injuries sustained from beatings, under my feet, all over my body, and an amputation of the left ear that was carried out by the police in Harare.

At times during beatings at the police station, I was forced to crawl into a blood stained metal coffin that is used to transport the dead to the mortuary. That was really horrific. Besides there is a lot of post traumatic stress that one has to endure after such acts of brutality.

Having been in Canada for two years now, I still spend a lot of time on medical treatments. Even though a few managed to escape into exile, still millions continue to suffer unjustly.

Mzila Moyana, Canada

My mother and father were made to sit on a stove and they tried to stand up, the end of the gun hit them. They just had to do it. It's horrific. After they got burnt the beatings resumed. My dad lost a tooth and my mother fainted and they left her for dead.

Mugabe SHOULD be next after Saddam. To see him tried and sentenced is all we want.

To see your dad made to crawl like a toddler is something that I've never envisioned and something has to be done soon. I'm scared; I don't know whose next at home, because I'm a student in the US, lost, scared and praying for the best.
David Chatikobo, Zimbabwe

I have noticed time and again from your perspective that a breach of democratic right is only when you support an opposition party and are beaten up by security personnel.

What about me who supports the government of Zimbabwe for many of my beliefs but was beaten up by the hooligans of MDC? Does it mean I have no rights whatsoever so long as I support a sitting government peacefully.

I condemn both sides on their method of dealing with political issues in this country.
Lovemore Moyo, Zimbabwe

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"All the evidence points to a new crackdown of unprecedented brutality"

Patricia on BBC Focus on Africa
"I thought they were thieves"


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