by DANAI MWARUMBA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE Zimbabwean government doubts the credibility of reports by media and human rights organisations that the military killed 17 people during violent protests last month.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has challenged the organisations to present evidence of the killings and called on relatives of victims said to have been deceased to come forward and corroborate the reports.
“We see all this in social media; we would want to see evidence where the 17 killed were buried. Let us see the relatives who will say I lost a son, I lost a daughter, I lost a cousin by the hands of the army,” Mnangagwa challenged.
The president also challenged relatives or women who were reportedly raped to come forward and to report to church or traditional leaders if they feared victimisation by police.
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), which represents women’s rights in the country also questioned the credibility of reports of rape saying alleged rape victims had not approached the organisation for assistance.
Amnesty International, which reported the killings, was yet to provide evidence.
Critics said the reports were a ploy by privately-owned media and foreign-sponsored non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in Zimbabwe to tarnish the country.
War veterans on Tuesday said the negative reporting stemmed from a plot to discredit Zimbabwe following its land reform programmes whilst pushing for regime change.
“The West will try by all means necessary to tarnish the country’s image at any given platform, but their lies will be exposed as no 17 persons have ever been killed by military,” said a veteran.
Speaking anonymously, a senior police officer at Harare Central, also refuted claims the military killed 17 people.
“It is unlawful in Zimbabwe to bury the dead without getting the case recorded by the police first and obtain a burial order regardless of the cause of death. All mortuaries, funeral parlours and hospitals cannot authorise burial of individuals without the issuing of a death certificate,” he said.
Violent protests gripped Zimbabwe last month over the worsening economic crisis, which saw unions and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-Alliance) spearhead such violent protests.
– CAJ News