Zimbabwe: ‘More than 900 injured’

2008-05-14 00:00

Retired South African generals investigating post-election violence in Zimbabwe have uncovered "shocking levels of state-sponsored terror", according to a report in yesterday’s Business Day. They told the paper that the violence makes any chance of a peaceful run-off election "almost impossible". The generals met government, Zanu-PF and opposition officials as well as civil society leaders. Thabo Mbeki was briefed on the team’s findings by their leader Lieutenant-General Gilbert Lebeko on his visit to Harare last week and Mbeki was reportedly "shaken" by what he was told. The final report will be given to Mbeki soon and he will decide whether to publish it.

"What we have heard and seen is shocking. We have heard horrific stories of extreme brutality and seen the victims," said one of the generals.

The paper said that the incident which shocked the investigators most happened at Chaona village in the Chiweshe area last Monday.

A Zanu-PF MP is believed to have led an armed gang of 45 in an attack on Movement for Democratic Change activists, leaving four dead. Three other victims died later and at least 50 people were seriously injured.

"It was a ferocious onslaught on the village. We have never seen anything like that before. The village is still in a state of shock and we live in fear," said a witness at the Avenues Clinic in Harare.

On Tuesday police briefly detained United States, British, Dutch, Japanese and Tanzanian diplomats and journalists in Glendale outside Harare while they were visiting scenes of political violence.

A report released by Zimbabwean doctors last week said that more than 900 people have been injured since the March 29 elections. The report said there have been 22 confirmed deaths. According to the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, "This figure grossly underestimates the number of victims country wide as the violence is now on such a scale that it is impossible to document all cases properly."

The report, dated May 8, said that so many people have come in with broken bones in the past 24 hours that hospitals and clinics in Harare are running out of plaster of Paris.

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