GOVERNMENT will investigate allegations of misconduct by security forces, including abuse of citizens, during demonstrations that rocked the country last week, two senior officials said yesterday. Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema and his Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs counterpart Ziyambi Ziyambi separately issued strong statements announcing that authorities took seriously reports of alleged rape, sexual abuse and assaults allegedly committed by uniformed forces.
There has been a flurry of reports of the said abuses, with a British broadcaster showing images of women who were allegedly violated.
Authorities will be stern, as President Mnangagwa recently also warned errant security members.
Ambassador Mathema said police had received one report so far and more would be investigated.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage wishes to acknowledge reports of alleged rape, sexual abuse and assaults that have been perpetrated by security forces during the recent operation. So far, the police has received one such report from St Mary’s, Chitungwiza, and the case is already under investigation,” he said.
Referring to disturbing footage being circulated on social media, Ambassador Mathema said: “We have also noted with concern a video that is circulating on social media which was allegedly recorded by ITV, as seen on the logo. It depicts scenes of bruised women alleging rape and sexual abuse at the hands of security forces. We take these rape allegations very seriously and investigations will be instituted immediately once complainants file reports with the police.”
He said he had already communicated with Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga over the matter.
“I have been briefed by the Commissioner- General of Police Cde T.G Matanga that he has checked with all the police stations to establish whether they have received this particular case or any other report of a similar nature and he confirmed that they have one case which was reported at St Mary’s, Chitungwiza.
“I wish to urge all Zimbabweans with information to report such cases to the police or anonymously send information on the following police WhatsApp number 0712800197 or telephone numbers 0242 703631, 0242 748836.
“We are therefore making a passionate appeal to all Citizens of Zimbabwe to come forward and report any cases of sexual abuse, rape or misconduct by the security forces to the police. All such cases will be investigated. Let me assure all Zimbabweans that Government respects the rights of its citizens, access to justice and the right to full protection of the law. I wish to stress that Government takes an exception to anyone who perpetrates any form of crime especially rape perpetrated against women and children,” he added.
Minister Mathema said President Mnangagwa was on record castigating any form of misconduct by security forces.
“His Excellency, the President Cde E.D Mnangagwa is on record stating that any misconduct or insubordination by the security forces will not be tolerated and these will be dealt with severely. I wish to reiterate the same statement and in the same vein I urge all complainants or guardians to come forward and report.
I wish to assure you that no one will be persecuted and maximum protection is guaranteed. We will leave no stone unturned,” he said.
Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi emphasised Government’s uncompromising stance on the matter.
“…Government wishes to assure the public that all allegations of misconduct against any of our Security Services will be thoroughly investigated and the law will be allowed to take its course,” he said.
“Those with complaints should report them to the police and they will be treated impartially and with sensitivity.”
He urged the media to be responsible.
“We call upon our media not to whip up emotions, but help bring people together as we hold hands one to another rebuilding our country,” Minister Ziyambi said.