We will investigate police attack on xenophobia protesters: Zim minister

2015-04-18 11:55
(File: Amanda Khoza, News24)

(File: Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Harare - A minister in President Robert Mugabe's government on Saturday promised to investigate reports that riot police brutally beat up a Zimbabwean rights activist protesting xenophobic violence outside the South African embassy in Harare.

In an attack that has been condemned by global watchdog Amnesty International, video footage shows riot police using their batons to beat Sydney Chisi outside the embassy in Belgravia suburb on Friday.

Chisi had to be taken for hospital treatment in Harare. Several other protesters were also reported injured.

Amnesty's Noel Kututwa, the group's regional director for southern Africa, said in a statement: "The brutal beating of Sydney Chisi by anti-riot police is abhorrent. It is against international standards on policing of peaceful demonstrations. This must stop."

Responding to complaints about the attack on Twitter, Zimbabwe's environment minister, Saviour Kasukuwere said: "Will investigate and if true it's unacceptable. The law must deal with perpetrators."

In another tweet he said: "What is wrong is wrong. Period."

Riot police have beaten up members of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in recent years, though incidents have been much less frequently reported since a coalition government was formed in 2009.

That government ended in 2013 when Mugabe was returned to power. His rival MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's popularity has waned and he is seen as much less of a political threat by the Mugabe government.

Zimbabweans have speculated online that Friday's attacks may have been partly provoked by posters carried by some protesters that mentioned the 91-year-old Zimbabwean president's wife Grace.

One of the posters read: "Grace, stop dancing with Zuma when Zimbos are dying," a reference to the Mugabes' state visit last week to South Africa.

Another placard urged Zimbabwe's first lady to "say something [because] xenophobia will catch up with you soon in Singapore," in a reference to trips Grace and her husband make frequently to the Far East, sometimes for health reasons.

Kasukuwere asked for video footage of the violence to be sent to him.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  xenophobia  |  southern africa

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