2003 Report by the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Theo van Boven


1978. By letter dated 2 September 2002, the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received information according to which members and supporters of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) as well as war veterans, sometimes accompanied by members of the law enforcement agencies, had attacked and threatened by persons believed to be members or supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It was reported that such attacks were taking place with the apparent acquiescence of state officials and perpetrators of abuse had reportedly not been brought to account to date. In the run- up to the June 2000 elections, ZANU-PF supporters reportedly set up bases in secret locations where assaults and torture occurred, and it was believed that this pattern had continued since. Furthermore, it was reported that opposition supporters and others have been assaulted in police stations where they had been held after being arrested, and that many victims of human rights violations did not report incidents to the police out of fear of being arrested and assaulted in their custody.

1979. In particular, the Special Rapporteur advised the Government that he had received information on the following individual cases.

1980. Mr Mahoso, the headmaster of Muchakata High School, near Macheke, and a human rights activist, was reportedly assaulted on 30 March 2000 during a school function by armed men, who allegedly beat him with stones, sticks, boots and fists, and berated the staff, pupils, parents and guests present for neglecting their national duty ? by not invading farms. The school was said to have been closed, with staff and pupils fearing for their lives. The police was believed to have not carried out any investigation.

1981. Justin Mutendadzamera, a Member of Parliament from Mabvuku, Hilda Mutendadzamera, his wife, and Joseph Kandi, their stepson, were reportedly assaulted on 18 October 2000 by about 50 assailants, among which police officers, who were surrounding the house belonging to Justin Mutendadzamera in Mabvuku and who started throwing stones onto the roof. The group of men reportedly jumped over the wall and started banging on the door. Justin Mutendadzamera and his wife were allegedly pulled outside and beaten. They were reportedly forced to run about 100 metres down the road to a place where approx 12 youths were lying on the ground and being beaten by police. They allegedly received hospital treatment later that morning. Justin Mutendadzamera’s request to identify the culprits was reportedly denied by the police.

1982. Makundwei Motsi Muzavazi, a man of the Musana communal lands area, was allegedly assaulted by ZANU-PF supporters armed with chains and sticks in mid- June 2001, because they believed he was an MDC supporter. It is reported that he required hospital treatment in Harare for injuries to his head.

1983. Felix Mazava, headmaster of a primary school, was said to have been abducted and beaten to death, allegedly by ZANU-PF supporters, on 14 September 2001.

1984. Vusumuzi Mukweli, a Democratic Change (MDC) activist, reportedly died in a Gokwe police station on 13 August 2001 after officers allegedly refused to provide him with anti-seizure medication he needed after a severe beating by the statesponsored militia in 2000.

1985. Zeke Chigagwe, an activist for the opposition, was allegedly beaten to death by members of the ruling ZANU-PF party in June 2000.

1986. Residents from the town of Ruwa, east of Harare, and from the smaller town of Mabvuku outside of Harare, were allegedly beaten by more than a 100 members of the Border Gezi youth training centre in Mt Darwin on 28 December 2001. The latter are said to have rampaged aga in on 2 January 2002 in Ruwa, indiscriminately beating up residents for allegedly supporting the political opposition.

1987. Abednico Bhebhe, Peter Nyoni, Joel Gabuza, all MDC Members of Parliament, and 33 other MDC supporters, including Gertrud Ntombeni, a member of the National Executive, were reportedly ambushed by military personnel and ZANU-PF militia on 6 February 2002. Those inside the cars were allegedly dragged out and beaten before being taken to the local police station. Thirty men were allegedly locked up in one cell and six women in another in very harsh conditions. It was reported that they had initially been denied food and drink, despite the hot weather conditions. They were reportedly also denied access to medical treatment despite reports that some were suffering from serious wounds.

1988. Michael Shane Kidd was reportedly arrested on 6 April 2002 and taken to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) offices in Chimanimani, in the eastern province of Manicaland, which are in the same building as the Chimanimani police station. At the station he was allegedly beaten with clenched fists by the senior officer in overall command of the station. Although he later tried to report the assault, the desk officer at the station was said to have ignored him. Instead the senior officer who had allegedly beaten him lodged a report that Michael Shane Kidd had assaulted him, and the latter was taken into a cell. Shortly afterwards approximately seven people, including the senior police officer and the senior CIO agent in Chimanimani came into his cell and allegedly assaulted him again. He was reportedly denied access to his lawyer until the following day. On 8 April 2002, a court reportedly ordered that he be released. A subsequent medical examination allegedly confirmed that his eardrum was ruptured. Following a complaint lodged by his lawyer at a different police station, the senior officer in charge of Chimanimani police station was charged with assault, but he had not been suspended from duty.

1989. On 13 November 2001, statements by Khethani Sibanda and Sazini Mpofu were apparently broadcast on Zimbabwe state television in which they implicated themselves and others in the abduction and subsequent murder of Cain Nkala. They had reportedly since then retracted these confessions, stating that the statements were made under duress. On 27 November 2001, Khetani Sibanda and Remember Moyo were said to have appeared before the High Court and to have testified that they had been tortured and forced to make their confessions. The High Court was believed to have ordered a medical examination to verify their injuries.

1990. Khethani Sibanda reportedly stated before a court of law that he had been kicked, slapped, punched and threatened at Gweru Police Station after his arrest on 11 November 2001. He reportedly further stated that at one stage on 12 November, the senior investigating officer pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot him.

1991. Sazini Mpofu was reportedly arrested late on 12 November 2001 and slapped, punched, kicked and assaulted with a gun butt by the arresting officers. A friend present at the time of the arrest was also said to have been assaulted. He was reportedly taken to his home, which was searched, and later to Nkulumane Police Station. He was believed to have been further assaulted during the transfer. It was reported that he had later stated that he had been stamped upon and trodden upon and told to make false confessions and implicate certain individuals. Medical evidence was said to corroborate his allegations.

1992. Remember Moyo was reportedly arrested in Gweru on 11 November 2001, together with Khethani Sibanda. It was alleged that the police stopped in a lay-by on the road to Bulawayo and that police officers assaulted him with kicks, punches and slaps. They reportedly struck him on the head and ribs, placed him in leg- irons, and suspended him in the air by the feet, for further ill-treatment. It was reported that he had been held by the head under the wheel of the vehicle, which caused injuries to his jaw. He was reportedly taken to Mbembesi Police Station where he was held for three nights handcuffed, chained to a ring in the cell, and denied blankets. On three successive nights, police officers allegedly assaulted him. The police officers are reported to have repeatedly told him to implicate certain individuals.

1993. Gilbert Moyo was reportedly arrested and assaulted on 12 November 2001. He was allegedly taken to Nkulumane Police Station, where his head was reportedly placed in the toilet bowl and the toilet was flushed a number of times. He was allegedly choked. He was also reportedly threatened by police officers and told to confess to crimes and to implicate certain other individuals.

1994. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur had received information according to which thousands of farm workers have been assaulted, their homes razed and then forced to leave the area by war veterans, ruling party supporters and those who have taken over white-owned farms. It was estimated up to 70,000 farm workers had been forced to leave their homes since those farms were forcibly occupied. In particular, the Special Rapporteur has received information on the following individual cases.

1995. Farai Sandikonda, a game warden, was said to have had his arm broken and to have received a serious cut on his head, as he was trying to protect his farm manager´s house, near Mvurwi, north of Harare, on 3 April 2000, by 20 alleged ZANU-PF supporters.

1996. Zondiwa Dumukani, a farm worker in Waterfalls, near Harare, was allegedly beaten to death on 12 June 2001 by war veterans. It appeared that nearby police officers and journalists with the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation television crew ignored the killing at the time.

1997. By letter dated 17 October 2002, the Special Rapporteur reminded the Government of a number of cases transmitted in 1998, 1999 and 2001 regarding which no reply had been received.

Urgent appeals

1998. On 8 February 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and the Chairman- Rapporteur of the Working Group arbitrary detention on behalf of Gertrud Ntombemi (f), a National Executive member of the Movement for Democratic Change(MDC), Abednico Bhebhe and Peter Nyoni, both MDC Members of Parliament and 33 MDC supporters who were reportedly being held incommunicado without charge at a local police station in Nkayi district, Matabeleland North. They were reportedly ambushed by military personnel and ZANU-PF militia on 6 February 2002. At the time of arrest, they were allegedly dragged out and beaten before being taken to the local police station. They were allegedly initially denied food and drink, despite the hot weather conditions. It is said that they are being denied access to medical treatment despite reports that some are suffering from serious wounds, including Abednico Bhebhe who is reportedly in a critically condition as a result of a head wound.

1999. On 18 October 2002, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteurs on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and on the right to education on behalf of 627 teachers who had reportedly been dismissed on 14 October 2002 by the Public Service Commission. The teachers had reportedly been on strike asking for a long-awaited wage increase. Raymond Majongwe, the Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), was reportedly arrested for his picket action and was injured during his 48-hours in police custody. On 16 September, he was reportedly arrested for the second time along with PTUZ leaders, Innocent Moyo and Enock Paradzayi, on public order charges. They were believed to be held incommunicado.


2000. The Special Rapporteur notes with concern that no response has been provided to a number of cases brought to the attention of the Government since 1998.

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small logo   This report has been published by Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights on August 2, 2005.