Update on Rape, Health workers, Teachers

Reports of rape

14 April: Media report of rape of a farm worker’s daughter by war veteran occupying Arizona farm. When the brother interceded he is reportedly assaulted and farm workers drove the war veterans off. No police action reported.

April: Two young white women were gang-raped on a farm just outside Harare. The choice of victims, nieces of a senior figure in the CFU, was seen as proof that its leaders are being targeted for attacks. Tonia Jowett, 25, and her sister, Laura Wiggins, 18, were each raped in succession by two assailants among about five men who stormed their home that night. They agreed for their names to be published to draw attention to the ordeal they suffered. Mrs Jowett’s husband, Brendan, 28, was knocked senseless when a brick was smashed into his face repeatedly. Mrs Jowett had furniture oil poured over her after her ordeal in a failed attempt to burn them to death in their cottage on Chedgelow farm, about 10km south of Harare. Police denied that the attack was “political” – that it was another brutal raid by veterans. But the evidence suggested otherwise. Mr Jowett said in an interview that the attackers had repeatedly asked Miss Wiggins who she was going to vote for and whether she supported the MDC. (Standard 23 April)

April 21-23: Violence Monitoring Project report of six cases of rape of farm worker wives and daughters. Musasa project reported to want to send mobile units to farms but unable to get police protection.

May: The wife of a teacher at Chitimbe Primary School in Mutawatawa was allegedly raped when a gang of suspected Zanu (PF) youths attacked her husband at the school as political violence against teachers intensifies in Mashonaland East province. (DN 11 May)

21 May: Media / ZUD reported case of three schoolgirls raped at St Pauls Musami in Murehwa in politically motivated violence allegedly by Zanu (PF) supporters. Report to police not made reportedly due to fear of police bias. (Standard 21 May) In a Daily News story on 9 June this report was carried:

St Paul’s Mission Catholic Mission school in Murewa, 80 km northeast of Harare. It runs a mission school. It became a target for Zanu (PF) youths, who are based at the local Shavanhwoye nightclub at the shopping centre, after they entered the school and found T-shirts signifying support for MDC. They beat up two teachers and accused the school of disseminating MDC propaganda. The teachers were stooges, they said, for white imperialists who would destroy Zimbabwe. Tabitha, a 16-year-old houseworker at St Paul’s. Until the Zanu (PF) supporters arrived. Tabitha is too young to vote in the election. She has no understanding of the brutal politics behind the attack on her as she walked to nearby shops with her friend, Florence. She simply sits on a couch, wraps a white woollen shawl tightly around her body and talks in a quiet monotone about the day that ended her hitherto happy life. “I have lost my virginity and I want only death,” she said. One afternoon this month she finished cooking lunch, and her friend Florence, also 16 were walking on the road from St Paul’s to the nearby Musami shopping centre to buy meat. It was dusk when two men wearing “Elections 2000″ Zanu (PF) T-shirts approached Tabitha and Florence, and prevented them from passing. The men carried newly cut switches. The girls turned and ran. They did not get far. More Zanu (PF) men came running out of the fields and chased the girls down “like animals”, Tabitha said. “They tore off my dress and I had only my panties left. I was screaming for help but nobody came to my rescue.” Two men dragged Tabitha behind the nightclub, threw her to the ground and covered her face with a “Forward with the Land” Zanu (PF) banner. One held her arms while the other raped her, then they switched positions. “I felt a huge pain between my legs,” she said. “I thought I was looking at my death.” Covered in blood, Tabitha was left to crawl away. Her screams finally brought a local shopkeeper. He took her to a hospital in the St Paul’s compound, where she stayed for three days. Florence was found by the side of the road, badly beaten about the head, back and arms. Tabitha is one of at least eight women to have been raped in her small village alone. All the victims say their attackers are Zanu (PF) supporters. Physical and psychological pain are not the only traumas faced by rape victims One in four Zimbabweans is HIV-positive, so there is a chance that she might have been infected with the Aids virus. Few such incidents are reported: the police are either allied with the perpetrators or seem powerless to stop them.

Fideline, 33, a mother of two is hiding with relatives in Harare, she showed three knife slashes the war veterans had left on her skull and a horrific 15 centimetre wound on her breast where she was beaten with barbed wire. She was left unconscious on the side of the road after she and her friend Gladys, 33, were attacked by a group of about 30 Zanu PF men as they walked home from Good Friday services at St Paul’s Church. Gladys suffered most. She was dragged into a field and raped by four men. She still cannot walk, Fideline says. “The shopkeeper who found me thought I was dead,” she said last week. “I remember as they beat me, I thought, ‘Now I am going to die’.”

Eveline, 16, and her 18-year-old sister Susan were forced from their home by intruders who found her washing the breakfast dishes before going to school. The girls were marched through the village as the Zanu PF men forced more and more young women ran away, they would catch us and we would not go home any more,” Eveline said. The raiding party eventually gathered a group of about 30 girls and marched them to Ngomamowa, where they arrived in the late afternoon. Eveline can barely utter the words to explain what happened. She speaks almost in a whisper, picking at her hands as she talks. She and Susan were forced to cook sadza and meat for their captors. Then they sang party songs and danced for hours. During the night, the so-called war veterans took some of the girls into a local grain mill and raped them on the concrete floor. “I don’t know how many were raped.” Eveline said. She and Susan were released in the morning. Others were held for days.

May: The Zimbabwe Union of Democrat’s (ZUD) parliamentary candidate for Glen View, Fatima Tungani, who has been looking after the girls since their arrival in Harare one and half weeks ago, said what had happened to the girls was shocking: “Three of the girls were raped while others were grabbed all over their bodies and beaten up severely at the school.” Tungani said the most frightful aspect was that the women had not been able to report the crime to the police of that area who were known to be partial to Zanu (PF) which was blamed for instigating the violence. Tungani said four youths had also fled Murehwa yesterday: “The boys said they ran away because they didn’t want to undergo forced military training by the war veterans who said they were preparing for war in case the ruling party was removed from power.” She said people were now living in fear of their lives in Murehwa. (Standard 21 May)

May: A middle aged woman who had fled to Harare alleges that she was raped by marauding Zanu (PF) supporters in front of her children and the other villagers. This rape was alleged to have taken place in Chief Nyakuchena’s area in Mudzi. Mudzi is about 200 km north east of Harare. (Fingaz 25 May)

May: Reports to health services of schoolchildren in Raffingora threatened with rape. Perpetrators not reported.

On June 3 the MDC reported that in the Mutaga area there have been nine reports of women being raped by war veterans supporting Zanu-PF. In one instance seven men claiming to be Zanu-PF supporters attacked the wife of a senior MDC official in her bedroom to “punish her for selling MDC cards” She was held down at each arm and each leg by four men, a fifth man sat on her neck and pummelled her while they took turns beating her and her husband claims she was raped. They beat her so severely that she can barely walk and her skin is navy with bruises. Sekai Holland, the MDC candidate for the area said: “the woman now walks around telling people she is no longer a person.” MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai said he was distressed by the acute levels of violence against supporters, in particular the rape and abduction of women.

Violence against health workers

3 May: ZIMNAMH reports that men not known to hospital staff abducted two nurses in Murewa.

May: There was a media report that a nurse in Mashonaland Central had been severely assaulted by Zanu (PF) supporters because they suspected that she was affiliated to the MDC.

8-16 May: There was a report that Chimukoko Hospital in Mudzi had been forcibly closed and a nurse had been assaulted.

May: There were reports from Mount Darwin, Rushinga and Mvurwi of interference with health workers on political grounds. Death threats were allegedly issued against a health worker in Rushinga and she was forced to leave her post.

15 May: About 30 people Zanu (PF) supporters abducted a nurse from Mnene Mission. They accused some nurses of being members of the MDC. The nurse was taken away together with two other persons and all three were assaulted. These persons were brought back to the mission later. The group promised to come back and clean up the place. Nurses said they feared for their lives.

May: It was reported that health workers at Chinamora Hospital were forced to pay money in order to avoid being raped. Health workers at Karoi Hospital also reported to face similar threats. These cases were reported to the police but no police action was taken and the health workers fear for their security.

May: Threats were made to a nurse at Karanda Mission Hospital. These forced her departure from a training programme.

May: Health worker reported threats to staff at Mudzi, Murehwa, Mvurwi, Masvingo, Mutare of various sorts. Demands were made for payments to guarantee their safety and they were ordered not to treat injured opposition supporters. They were told not to report these threats and the staff now fearful of victimisation.

Late May: Zanu(PF) supporters allegedly raided Nyadiri hospital and threatened health workers. There are unconfirmed reports of assault and rape of nurses. The District Medical Officer left but has since returned.

Obstruction of victims access to medical attention and closure of services

18 April: Media reports lone farmer Mr D Olds subject to a three hour gun battle on his farm with 40 -100 war veteran attackers armed with AK47s. An ambulance was called to the farm but was fired upon by the attackers and could not reach its destination. Police at a road block allowed two injured attackers to go through to hospital. The injured attackers were later allowed to leave the hospital without the police taking any action.

24 April: After alleged Zanu (PF) supporters assaulted an MDC member in Shamva he sought medical attention. He alleges that CIO operatives came looking for him and he had to leave the area.

9 May: An MDC member in Karoi was abducted, severely beaten and left unconscious on the outskirts of Chiedza township. When he went to the Karoi hospital a staff member allegedly told him that: “we do not treat MDC people”. When the victim went to the police station to report the incident a police officer was alleged to have said to the victim: “I once warned you not to participate in MDC activities, but you did not bother to listen.”

15 May: Chimukoko Hospital was reported to have been forcibly closed to make sure that none of the teachers who had been beaten up would be able to obtain medical treatment. Staff at the hospital reportedly had to flee from the hospital for safety and those teachers who escaped were forced to seek medical help in the towns.

19 May: There was a report of hospital staff in Wedza refusing treatment to people beaten up by Zanu (PF) youths on the grounds that they had been instructed by local war veteran leader not to treat such persons.

May: There were reports of threats of violence to health workers at Chidamoyo Mission clinic and at Rushinga hospital. Some health workers had left their posts because of these threats.

May: There was a report that at Kariba Hospital health workers were warned against treating people from opposition parties.

Violence against rural teachers

The victimisation of teachers started in May after Vice President Msika teachers of backing the MDC and stated that they should not be retained as polling officers during the general elections. Other party officials also accused the teachers of being members of MDC and of using to their classrooms to promote the MDC. According to one report Mashonaland Central Governor, Border Gezi, openly declared that if teachers want to become politicians they should expect to receive “political treatment”. The Minister of Justice, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was also having accused teachers of “polluting the minds” of young people.

These statements were taken by the violent gangs of Zanu (PF) supporters as authorisation to engage in a campaign of terror against rural teachers. The teachers were targets because they seen as being supporters of the MDC and because of their important role in the community they were seen as being able to mobilize and influence people. Known or suspected to be members of the MDC have been attacked. The objective the campaign is to drive teachers out of the rural areas so to remove their influence.

Teachers have been physically assaulted, some in front of their pupils. Some female teachers have been raped. Many threats of violence have been made against teachers. Classes have been disrupted by veterans summoning all students and teachers for political “re-education” sessions. Teachers have been forced to attend rallies.

Large numbers rural teachers have fled from their schools and have taken refuge in the towns and cities. The violence against teachers has been concentrated in the provinces of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Midlands but schools in the provinces of Matabeleland North and South and Masvingo province have also been affected.

On 5 June the head of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, Leonard Nkala, and Munyaradze said it was difficult to trace many of the teachers because they were nervous of being followed. Nkala said some schools had not opened this term because of insecurity, while human rights activists said that ruling party supporters and independence war veterans behind the farm occupations had accused teachers of indoctrinating students, and frequently summoned pupils and teaches for “re-education” sessions. Many teachers had been beaten or humiliated in front of their pupils, and many had gone into hiding.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has condemned the attacks as “unwarranted, barbaric and nefarious” and blame them on the government. “Top government officials have publicly attacked and condemned teachers in the media. This has directly led to violence against teachers in the form of physical attacks in schools, rapes, destruction of teachers’ property and closure of schools,” the union said.

Reports of attacks upon teachers include the following:

Mashonaland Central
Teachers were severely beaten and lessons disrupted at Centenary Secondary School, Chikwirandaombera Primary School, Chikwidibe Primary School, Binga Rural Secondary School, Bindura Primary School, Chipindura High School, and Chinhamora primary and secondary schools. Teaching staff were also targeted at Chimfombo Primary School, Chipangura Secondary School, Chidewu Primary School, Chitsungo Mission, Gakwe Primary School and Chimanikire Primary School in the Guruve area.

Mashonaland East
The worst affected area was Mudzi where nearly all the teaching staff at Chimukoko primary and secondary schools had been severely beaten up in the past three weeks. It is reported that fifteen teachers were beaten two of whom were beaten unconscious.The veterans had forced the closure of Chimukoko Clinic so injured teachers would not receive treatment.

There had also been attacks on staff at Mnamba Primary School, Dombodzvuku primary and secondary schools, Chemhondoro primary and secondary schools and Nyamazera Primary School. A regional education officers reported that teachers were being harassed and threatened and many had fled from their schools. Mudzi, Mutoko and Murehwa.

Masvingo
In the Mwenezi area Neshuro primary and secondary schools and Mushava primary and secondary schools had been closed as violence intensified and female teachers had been reportedly raped. The veterans have continued demanding the removal of five teachers at Mapanzure Secondary School, 40 kms south of Masvingo, who they accuse of being staunch MDC supporters. Beatings have also taken place at several schools in the Mataga area of Masvingo.

Edmore Hwarare the leader of the war veterans, occupying commercial farms in Masvingo and Midlands provinces threatened teachers with death. He was addressing a meeting between the war veterans and teachers in Masvingo.

Matabeleland
War veterans and their supporters had invaded George Silundika High School in Nyamandlovu and Tsholotsho High School. Most primary schools in Filabusi were temporarily closed for most of the past two weeks as teachers in the area were accused of supporting MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda, who comes from the area.

Chikomba
War veterans and Zanu (PF) supporters are allegedly demanding
$6 000 a month from each teacher in Chikomba District as “protection fees” against the violence their party is accused of fomenting in the area. Teachers said: “This is extortion, but what can we do? The police are reluctant to protect us. Most teachers interviewed said they were concerned about their safety because the war veterans and Zanu PF supporters were beating up people they suspected to be opposition party supporters. “We are the most targeted group,” said a primary school teacher at Mudanda.

Robert Chikasha, the district education officer for Chivhu, said 33 teachers had fled Chikomba in the last three weeks because of the violence. Of these, Chikasha said, eight were from Warikandwa and two from primary schools in Sadza, two from Madzivire secondary, one from Chisangano primary and the other from Chisangano Secondary School, one from Mungurawu primary, eight from primary and 10 from secondary schools in Mahusvu. Chikasha said: “There may be more cases because some of them are not coming through our offices. Most of those who have reported to us are back at work. We are encouraging school authorities to facilitate meetings between teachers and parents to find ways to create harmony. Last week, six teachers fled from Madzivire Secondary School after an attack. “Here, you support the opposition at your own peril,” said a teacher at St Francis of Assisi. Teachers at Madzivire Secondary School were forced out when a gang of Zanu PF supporters, with whips and knobkerries, descended on the school at night two weeks ago. They inflicted serious injury on three teachers after accusing them of pulling down Hunzvi’s campaign poster from the school tuck shop. They threatened to close the school.

Chimanimani
War veterans and other Zanu (PF) supporters took over the town’s secondary and primary schools and dragged the teachers from their classrooms. They accused some teachers of being MDC supporters were stripped naked in front of their students. Many were beaten, some unconscious. Several teachers were hospitalised and three headmasters are still missing.

Goromonzi
Teachers fled from Mapfeni primary school after a group of Zanu (PF) youths descended on the school. Parents at the school said they were shocked when the youths arrived in a lorry. One parent said: “These youths were armed with all sorts of weapons. He said one lady teacher failed to escape and was severely beaten.

Mberengwa
About 30 people Zanu (PF) supporters harassed teachers at Mnene primary and secondary schools and abducted of a temporary teacher.

Mutawatawa
The wife of a teacher at Chitimbe Primary School in was allegedly raped by a gang of suspected Zanu (PF) youths. The gang raided the family accusing the teacher of supporting the MDC. The teacher immediately sought a transfer and took his family to Masvingo.

Overall figures
War vets and Zanu (PF) supporters have forced more than 250 primary and secondary schools across the country to close for at least a day or more or have disrupted learning at the schools in the last three weeks. More than 7000 teachers, mainly from schools in rural areas have been forced to flee their schools and move into the towns and cities. (Fingaz 25 May)

On 5 June the Zimbabwe Teachers Association estimated that at least 200 of about 6,000 government schools have been disrupted by intimidation and attacks.

Design and development supported by HURIDOCS.