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Monday, 12 May 2008

The barbarity continues

Another atrocity against the people of Zimbabwe

As our politicians squabble, debate, impose conditions and argue, as international statesmen fudge and mumble their vague support for our suffering, it is easy to forget that down the dust roads and rural tracks of this country a daily horror is taking place. This is another eye-witness account.

The village of Chiweshe is near the small town of Mazoe, some 150 kilometres north of Harare. A Zanu-PF militia force, numbering about 20 and led, I am informed, by retired army major Cairo Mhandu, arrived at the village late one night last week.

Four residents of the village, all of them known to be activists and supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were rounded up. Then, while other villages were forced to watch, the torture began.

The four men - Jemedza Maguramhende, Tapiwa Meda, Alex Chiriseri and Roda Chavachimwe - were first flogged with whips made of barbed wire. When they became unconscious they were revived with water, then beaten to death with rifle butts.

The scene was described to me by Ida, the wife of Mr. Maguramhende, as she waited at a Harare clinic next day, to take her husband's body for burial. "They wanted my husband and they got him," she told me. "They killed him before my eyes."

A post mortem on Maguramhende revealed that his jaws and temple had been "forcibly collapsed" and that he had a huge dent in the back of his skull. Another victim, Tapiwa Meda, was so badly beaten that he could only be identified by his wrist watch.

Apart from the four who died, two other men were beaten, and are now in intensive care in a private Harare hospital. They were David Mapuranga and his father, Richard. David is known to be a major MDC activist who organised support in the run-up to the election.

Both men were whipped with barbed wire until they passed out. Richard's wife, Marevaseyi, told me that Mhandu, the militia commander, ordered that they be revived before being killed "so they can endure the pain of dying."

But the two men were so badly beaten that they did not recover consciousness despite by doused with water. Mhandu turned his