Zimbabwe 'torture' camp exposed

2011-08-08 10:34

Cape Town - A torture camp run by Zimbabwe’s security forces is operating in the country’s rich Marange diamond fields, the BBC reported on Monday.

According to the report, victims had recently told of severe beatings and sexual assault.

“It is a place of torture where sometimes miners are unable to walk on account of the beatings,” the report quoted a victim, who was released from the main camp in February, as saying.

The main torture camp uncovered by the report is known locally as “Diamond Base”. According to the BBC, witnesses said it is a “remote collection of military tents, with an outdoor razor wire enclosure where the prisoners are kept”.

“It is near an area known as Zengeni near Marange, said to be one of the world's most significant diamond fields. The camp is about one mile from the main Mbada mine that the EU wants to approve exports from” the report said, adding that the company that runs the mine was headed by a personal friend of President Robert Mugabe.

A second camp was said to be located in nearby Muchena.

The BBC report said police and military recruited civilians to illegally dig for diamonds for them. Those workers were taken to camps “for punishment if they demand too large a share of the profits. Civilians caught mining for themselves are also punished in the camps”.

A former member of a paramilitary police unit who worked in the main camp in late 2008 told the BBC that at the time he tortured prisoners by mock-drowning them and whipping them on their genitals.

Dog mauling

He also said that dogs were methodically ordered by a handler to maul prisoners.

"They would handcuff the prisoner, they would unleash the dogs so that he can bite," he said. "There was a lot of screaming".

He said one woman was bitten on the breast by the dogs whilst he was working in the camp.

"I do not think she survived," he said.

A former captive told the BBC how they were whipped three times a day.

“They beat us 40 whips in the morning, 40 in the afternoon and 40 in the evening,” he was quoted as saying. The BBC said he still could not use one of his arms after the beatings and could barely walk.

“They used logs to beat me here, under my feet, as I lay on the ground. They also used stones to beat my ankles,” another victim was quoted as saying.

According to the former captives, men were held in the camp for several days at a time, before new prisoners came in. Women were released more quickly, often after being raped.

No change

Another witness said he was locked up in Muchena camp in 2008 after police set dogs on him. He was recaptured in November 2010.

"Nothing has changed between 2008 and 2010... a lot of people are still being beaten or bitten by dogs."

"Even if someone dies there, the soldiers do not disclose, because they do not want it known," an officer in Zimbabwe's military told the BBC.

Witnesses said the camps have been operating for at least three years.

Marange diamonds were banned in 2009 by the Kimberley Process (KP), the international initiative of the diamond industry that attempts to keep conflict or so called “blood” diamonds out of the lucrative market.

According to BBC, representatives of the KP visited the area briefly in August 2010 and concluded that the situation in the diamond areas was still problematic but there had been significant progress.

Nick Westcott, a spokesperson for the Working Group on Monitoring of the KP, said of the BBC’s discovery of the torture camps: “It’s not something that has been notified to the Kimberley Process.”

  • Porco - 2011-08-08 10:45

    This is bad, when are these brutal tactics of Zanu PF and the military in Zimbabwe going to stop. Does that idiot Malema realise just what he is demanding with his call for "nationalisation"? Grand scale Government backed human rights abuses.

      Nongoloza - 2011-08-08 11:42

      Tsheps16V - When will you fools wake up, when you have no potable water or food to eat? Like your african brothers in the north.

      docraven - 2011-08-08 11:43

      Tshepo, i know you have been through the terrible ordeal when they tortured you.You must have thought you were in hell.To experience pain like that and to lose your testicles must have been horrific.My thoughts are with you.

      docraven - 2011-08-08 12:00

      Tshepo, i have no plans of intruding your country, Robben Island is to isolated!

      open-minded - 2011-08-08 12:03

      Its amazing how they report these stories they are based on assumptions and unreliable sources. BBC is a mouth piece for Britain and we know their intentions regarding Zimbabwe and a fool will really believe this story...(just another propaganda)...

      daaivark - 2011-08-08 12:04

      With respect, Tsheps, this is my country as much as it is yours. I was born here, as were my parents and their parents. There is no room for racism in this continent.

      100%RSA - 2011-08-08 12:05

      'o k' tsheps16v

      liveandlove - 2011-08-08 12:13

      And your pic suits you. You look like a a pig. And you think like a racist PIG!!!! Go roll in the Mud!!!

      radarblip - 2011-08-08 12:19

      tshepomorn the GOOD thing about being a 'white unwelcome guest' in this country is the fact that white contribute the most taxes, which government love. make no mistake, when things start going south government will torture YOU, not the whities who are paying for their lifestyles. look at zim, gov. claims to hate whities, but they provide most of the bucks and they know that a) their vote is so small it counts for nothing and b) no amount of violence or intimidation will EVER swing the whiteys vote and c) gov. is scared of touching anyone who may carry something a US or brit passport. so sadly it is the poor blacks who bare the brunt of political intimidation in africa.

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 12:25

      @Tsheps16V You must have a serious problem: either you can not read or do not understand what you read! The victims in these torture camps are black Zimbabweans. Mugabe is torturing and killing his own fellow black Zimbabweans. If Malema or someone like him was to rule SA, God forbid, what will stop him doing the same to black South Africans?

      Ann - 2011-08-08 12:31

      @Tsheps16V - You are a fool. If you look like your picture on News24 nothing more needs to be said. May Robert or someone like him get hold of you when you have a bad day, then we'll see how quickly your tune will change!

      otter - 2011-08-08 12:31

      Tshepo??? are you a real clot or just trying to prove that you were not brought up well?

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 12:36

      @Docraven If Tsheps has been tortured at one point in his/her life - I have no reason to doubt you, after all it was only yesterday that these things were happening in SA - what I fail to understand is how someone like that can not sympathise with Mugabe's victims of torture! What have they ever done to him/her?!

      Realistiqly - 2011-08-08 13:39

      @Tsheps, I hope one day you will really sit and THINK about what you are saying here. How can you blame the generations born on this continent? Did we in the present steal YOUR land? Please dude, think.

      daaivark - 2011-08-08 13:53

      Mr Mukori. Don't worry. Tsheps isn't big on this thinking thing.

      chaminuka - 2011-08-08 15:29

      For your info there is no nationalisation in Zimbabwe....those diamonds are being mined by private companies.

      FACT - 2011-08-08 15:38

      @Theps, This country will be F....ED without whites and YOU KNOW IT!!!

  • The_Realist - 2011-08-08 10:50

    this is africanization in it's purest form!

      4_Way_Test - 2011-08-08 11:13

      @ The_Realist - Do you honestly believe that this does not happen in South America, North America (Mexico), Europe (Eastern) and Asia ? This sort of evil does not know borders it happens everywhere.

      Zeek - 2011-08-08 11:22

      @4_way_test Sure is does it happens in many parts of the world. I just seems that many of the worlds evils are on this continent. Namibia/Botswana and lately Mozambique is just goign abotu business. But here at home crime has taken over. Zimbabwe and north is a F UP to to put it mildly is like midevil times corruption torture, dictators. It is a sick sick section of the earth.

      The_Realist - 2011-08-08 11:26

      4_Way_Test , not @ all, i realize it happens all over the world, this is what i call it when it happens HERE on the darkest continent!

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 12:56

      @The_Realist There is a real danger that SA too may follow the same tragic path Mugabe has taken Zimbabwe. It has not happened yet, there are still a lot of good and positive things in SA; a free press and the influence of Madiba - to name two. On the negative side; there is people like Malema, growing corruption in high places and, worst of all, the growing chorus doom from people like you The Realist. Your defeatist attitude is not helping Africa from this "africanization" madness!

      daaivark - 2011-08-08 13:04

      Three cheers for you, Mr Mukori. I completely agree. With attitudes as reflected by The Realist (the irony in the name is actually tragic) progress on our beloved continent will be slow.

      The_Realist - 2011-08-08 16:48

      W Mukori & daaivark, i apologize for stating the obvious & calling a spade by it's name. i was born in zimboobwe and used to be called a WHENWE, having lived in SA for the last 35years, i am now a SOWETONOW!

      Zion - 2011-08-09 08:15

      Do not be too sure about Namibia. Namibia is following the same trends as seen in South Africa. An attitude of entitlement runs strongly in "disadvantaged community" as well as blatant reverse racism like we see in SA. Tender corruption has its day too accompanied by the government raking the evidence away. The same information disclosure policy we have in SA too. (Ref. Namibian news papers on the Internet. On some of the newspapers a password is required.)

  • Mugabe - 2011-08-08 11:15

    lies lies lies....please british leave my Zimbabwe alone and keep your cold Britain

      boerekanon - 2011-08-08 11:33

      Haha you troll, this doesn't even warrant a response.

      Pulverturm - 2011-08-08 11:34


      Paul - 2011-08-08 12:00

      @ Mugabe Oh DO you? Gukurahundi Massacres by Mugabe's 5th Brigade in the predominantly Ndebele regions of Zimbabwe. You kill your own people just like every other uncivilized culture. Zimbabwe is nothing more than a tribal war Ndebele VS Shona can't fool me!!

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 13:17

      @Mugabe There are reports of political violence and lawlessness in Zimbabwe everyday. Last week Zanu PF thugs stormed parliament and assaulted MPs and some journalists, for example! Are all these reports lies too? Zanu PF Minister Mutasa did not think so, he explanation was that the thugs were "provoked". Funny how all these reports of beatings and murder always take place in the victims's homes and they provoked Zanu PF thugs! The British should "leave my Zimbabwe alone", you say? We are talking about a whole nation who have become the victims of your brutality; does Zimbabwe belong to them too? They are certainly not British!

      Realistiqly - 2011-08-08 13:42

      Ja and why is there millions of Zimbabweans running away out of their country? Oh maybe the millions applying for SA citizenship is also British Propaganda. If it was all rosey there, why are millions running away?

  • Herdsman - 2011-08-08 11:19


      mogirl - 2011-08-08 12:13

      @ herdsman u are now seriously sick

      daaivark - 2011-08-08 13:05

      Just some jerk that thinks he's clever.

  • Dal68 - 2011-08-08 11:19

    Just another African genocide waiting to happen.....

  • Tigerman - 2011-08-08 11:20

    British propaganda...

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-08-08 11:33


      Chika01 - 2011-08-08 11:44

      @ Tigerman. You are Inhumane and haertles!

      docraven - 2011-08-08 11:46

      Tigerman, i sympathize with you and your family.It must have been hell when they tortured you , but to have both your testicles removed must have been hell.I wish you a speedy recovery.

      open-minded - 2011-08-08 12:06

      Its British propaganda for really and the media is full of lies!!!...

      Ann - 2011-08-08 12:33

      Tigerman - you again - can't you just keep quiet for a while and do some work!

      Realistiqly - 2011-08-08 13:44

      Ja and why is there millions of Zimbabweans running away out of their country? Oh maybe the millions applying for SA citizenship is also British Propaganda. If it was all rosey there, why are millions running away?

  • fracham - 2011-08-08 11:26

    Imperialist Pigs are responsible for this propaganda. In Zimbabwe we respect the lives of our citizens. As long as they obey the law. And . Nobody is above the law.

      bigBG - 2011-08-08 11:37

      really, imperialist is a big word for an ape!

      Chika01 - 2011-08-08 11:43

      Drink much????? Delusional no idea of what they do ...... Unless MINI BOB.

      Paul - 2011-08-08 11:54

      Oh DO you? Gukurahundi Massacres by Mugabe's 5th Brigade in the predominantly Ndebele regions of Zimbabwe. You kill your own people just like every other uncivilized culture

      radarblip - 2011-08-08 12:21

      really? all of the domestics in my area were ordered to the nearest vlei every evening in 2008 so that ZANU-PF could beat them and intimidate them.

      Chris Swart - 2011-08-08 12:21

      Is that why you live in SA then?

      Kenno - 2011-08-08 12:56

      @Fracham....So why are half of Zimbabwe here in SA if it is such a great place to be. Your Mugabe's wife is bad enough with her disgusting ignorant attitude. All Zimbos...according to Fracham, you can go seems to be OK there now...Goodbye!

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 13:27

      @fracham "Nobody is above the law!" What does Mugabe pay you to say that? What laws have these Marange villagers (and all the thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans Mugabe has terrorised all these years) broken?

      Taf - 2011-08-09 09:20

      Really now? The sooner the black African realize that the black leader is just on the pinnacle to serve his interests and those of closest buddies the better. He is not too different from the colonial leader. Biggest difference is the knife in your back is more painful if its you kith and keen holding it with a nasty grin. . . .

  • tiotudg - 2011-08-08 11:27

    Waar is Mandela nou: "Never, Never, and Again Never...........?

      Tigerman - 2011-08-08 11:42

      None of your business...moron

      docraven - 2011-08-08 12:01

      Tigerman, get back to the Island!!

  • realist - 2011-08-08 11:28

    Troll alert.

  • Biggie.Chidzvondo - 2011-08-08 11:28

    I don't support ZANU PF but this is just a blatant

      bigBG - 2011-08-08 11:36

      And how exactly do you know that this is a blatant lie?

      Nepster10 - 2011-08-08 11:51

      Have you ever been to Marange, Chidzvondo?

      mogirl - 2011-08-08 12:14

      @biggie- lie or not, it is no secret that Zim is just a cruel country to live in

  • Tokkel Loshi - 2011-08-08 11:29

    You get what you vote for , enjoy your african run country

      Nepster10 - 2011-08-08 11:52

      Zimbabwean did not vote for Mugabe, you morone. Mugabe stole the election.

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 14:28

      The people in Marange, like millions of other Zimbabweans, did not vote for Mugabe! Mugabe would not be in State House was it not for President Mbeki and, our own idiot, Tsvangirai who allowed the tyrant back through the back door!

  • stephen scott - 2011-08-08 11:34

    Wonder when our camp opens

  • nicola - 2011-08-08 11:37

    Simple solution: stop buying diamonds. Kimberley process or not, these diamonds find their way onto the market.

      shmangle - 2011-08-08 12:02

      Best idea I've heard, I don't understand the obsession with shiny rocks anyway. Diamonds can be artificially MANUFACTURED, but they can't be sold as jewellery, only used in industrial use, or they'd kill the natural diamond market. It just makes no sense that people pay so much for the natural version of something that can be so cheaply manufactured with no significant difference in quality.

  • shmangle - 2011-08-08 11:59

    Lies! It's all these greedy people trying to steal the diamonds from the government! The western imperialists always trying to paint Zanu-PF as thugs, these people mustn't steal the diamonds! They belong to Mugabe!

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 14:38

      I am a black Zimbabwean and the stories of brutality and repression in Zimbabwe are true. There are hundreds of thousands of other black Zimbabweans who will telling similar stories. The "western imperialists" are only repeating what the black Zimbabweans have been saying all along. Why do you not believe the blacks and just forget the "western imperialists" are saying the same?

  • moochie - 2011-08-08 12:03

    do the african people really not get how bad there leadership is. its a joke. people like Zuma and Mbeki stay silent until its too late.. mugabe and Malema are the same your eyes cos if you dont SA will end up like Zim. Malema must burn.. he will be responsible for undoing all of mandela's good work. Mbeki should have spoken out against Mugabe and he didnt and it ended in him being disposed. boom. Zuma.. think quick - you are next if you dont deal with real issues like Corrupt Cele and Racist greedy no brains Malema..

      mogirl - 2011-08-08 12:17

      @moochie- correction. Zuma stays silent for good. It is appaling that the country is run the way that it is and we risk losing foreign direct investment due to all these issues outstanding if Mr President could just take a stand. But then again, what can we expect from an uneducated, selfish man?

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 14:41

      @Moochie Thank you!

  • me-right - 2011-08-08 12:10

    Take all the South African prisoners and put them inside the mines to work. Hard labour and a good lashing at least then crime levels would definately come down considering most of the people live to commit crime. There is not such thing a rehabilitation at they have the taste for a good life.

  • T - 2011-08-08 12:11

    This is not a racist thing. do you think the men on a military and monetary power trip in Zim are discriminating when they torture people ? Back on black or black on white it doesn't matter to them. Torturing people is wrong, it makes me SICK to my stomach to read an article like this and see what one human being can do to another and what makes it worse is that it is so close to home ! Next door from us and we do nothing to stop it. in fact our government is supporting the same men that are doing this to people.

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 14:52

      I think the South African government could have done a lot more to end the madness in Zimbabwe. It is worrying that the ordinary South Africans have, after all these years, pushed their government to act on this matter. There are two possible explanations 1) the people themselves have failed to appreciate the gravity of the matter or/and 2) ANC regimes are none responsive to public opnion. Whatever the reason(s) it is worrying because that is exactly what happened in Zimbabwe and look where it landed us!

  • umlaut - 2011-08-08 12:14

    This is the future the malemas will have for SA--It is called sharing in the wealth of the country- ECONOMIC FREEDOM--JOB CREATION. Exactly the same will happen here with this nationalization promise--the mines will start doing badly (mismanagement, bad market prices etc) and then the miners won't get their R8000 per month but president malema will tell them they can only have R2000 pm and then they protest and then--THIS.

  • letsee - 2011-08-08 12:16

    These news are already going around the world and tat's what makes me ashamed of being an frican. We are unable to deveop a civilized society.

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 15:05

      @Letsee Are you ashamed of being African because news like this is going round the world or because these things are happening? I ask because tyrants like Mugabe dislike the former and that is why they have been going to great lengths to deny and surpress the truth. Being an independent journalist or human rights activist is a very dangerous thing; the regime has huntered these people down.

      Mbada - 2011-08-09 10:00

      Letsee - ever ask youself if the British really care about black Zimbabweans. This is about money and the fact that Zimbabweans are controlling this for themselves. I wonder how this journalist even got to Marange coz you need police clearances and there are quite a few roadblocks. The EU ambassadors in Zim were invited by the same Min of Mines to tour Marange and they have been postponing ever since. This is about big money and blacks must wise up and play the game at the same level

  • W Mukori - 2011-08-08 12:16

    Zimbabwe's Education Minister, Senator David Coltart, was quoted in the press in Australia saying "Mugabe is not Idi Amin!" The Senator should say that to all those who have been in these torture camps and to loved ones of those who died in these camps!

      Realistiqly - 2011-08-08 13:49

      I would like to meet one that has died in those camps so we can get the truth....

      W Mukori - 2011-08-08 15:17

      @Realistiqly If SA maintain its present course, you may not have long to wait! You will not have to ask someone else about what it means to have thugs toitoing in your neighbourhood and burning your home! During the dark years of apartheid these things happened to blacks only of course. If it should happen again, this time both blacks and whites will be affected. So you should be careful what you wish for!

      Mbada - 2011-08-09 10:05

      Well David Coltart sits with Mugabe every Tues in their cabinet meetings so he knows what he is talking about. He's got nothing to gain by saying this as he has fought Mugabe since '99. So I take his word over W Mukori!

      p123 - 2011-08-09 19:13

      Mugabe is just as bad as Idi Amin!!!!!! Wait till he eventually dies and the whole truth comes to the fore.

  • Met - 2011-08-08 12:19

    Thsepps- is that a photo of your face or your behind, because you are clearly using your behind to think(sic)

  • zs5zk - 2011-08-08 12:25

    They destroyed and chased the White`s out.There JUST DESERVES`s,no PITY from me.

  • Cynic - 2011-08-08 12:28

    What do you expect we are in Africa

  • Bova007 - 2011-08-08 12:31

    marmite atheist's!

  • Underwhelmed - 2011-08-08 12:35

    I have a question, why are our African leaders either formally trained at education establishments like Yale & Oxford (check it out) or as they are about to be appointed rushed out to the US for an intensive orientation process (check it out - Zuma is a good eg.) And who really decides which stories are run in the news? REALLY? Come people it's time to wake up now.

  • Ann - 2011-08-08 12:36

    I wouldn't be bothered with wearing diamonds (and another number of pricey gems) - you never quite know just how much blood has been involved. But then again, I imagine Tigerman & Tsheps16V wouldn't care about that!

  • Etienne Andlau - 2011-08-08 12:48

    Who wears diamonds? I rest my case.

  • Face - 2011-08-08 12:51

    Tsheps16V - 70% of your eyeballs are white. Those were the type of targets we aimed for during the bush War - White and shiny in the dark!!!

  • umlaut - 2011-08-08 12:51

    tsheps16v--))"you whites must remember that for now you are unwelcome guests in my country"------malemas history--we were actually first and we recorded it on paper--you couldn't write then--so in a court of law the written document takes preference------you must switch off that 16V electric current that you have connected to your 16 cell brain---you will be able to think more clearly then.

  • Not Black - 2011-08-08 12:51

    Mr Dubious Dilema, Dear Failed Cabinet Maker, Can you please tell us why YOU and the ANCYL support MUGABE and his Military Thugs? BLOODY AGENTS? BASTERDS? Do they also contribute to your RATANANG TRUST? If so, do not worry, you will obviously donate it to the poor.

  • Realistiqly - 2011-08-08 13:32

    Go ahead and vote Zanu PF, also the same awaits on SA. What a tragedy.

  • chaminuka - 2011-08-08 15:27

    There is a bigger agenda here.....there are some people seriously opposed to Zim selling its diamonds. Come on be serious....De Beers was "mining" the same fields for 10 years and claimed that there were no diamonds that could be mined commercially. I smell a rat. Some people cannot fathom a prospering Zim headed by Zanupf. Let them enjoy the fruits of their resources in peace.

  • Boetman - 2011-08-08 16:14

    Greed, torture, poverty & murder by Government Institutions..........Zimbabwe is certainly a great place. Well done Bob! You're a stirling guy. Also nice to know Bob is a great friend of Jacob and that Zimbabwe is held as an expamle by the ANC of how things should be done.

  • wjdladla - 2011-08-08 18:26

    @Mukori, I have been following events and the history of Zim. What amazes me is that people tend to forget or turn a blind eye when artrocies are committed against certain tribal group or people of certain regions. Mugabe did not start killing people in 2000 but immediately after the independence he was handed by the British. He killed more than 20 000 people in Matebeland and yet the British went to knight him and the world stood and did nothing. I turn to sympathise with Mthwakazi Liberation Front who want totally independence from Zimbabwe. They were killed, thrown into mine deeps and are still imaginalised. When is Mugabe going to be charged by International Criminal Court?

  • nn.prv - 2011-08-08 19:52

    all this is aimed at discrediting the Zim diamonds. BBC have played this cardbefore and never provided proof.Wher are those camps coz we know the area so well .I would love to know ...So predictable.

  • Jason - 2011-08-10 14:12

    African's leaders are the cancer of this continent.

  • Doufi - 2011-08-11 09:33

    The story is very unclear, why are these people being tortured? It gets even more confusing “It is a place of torture where sometimes miners are unable to walk on account of the beatings,” the report quoted a victim, who was released from the main camp in February, as saying. Is this illegal miners? Is it the guys working for the authorised mining companies? While not condoning the said torture, Zimbabwean security details do use unorthodox methods to treat those on the wrong side of the law and the best is to avoid conflict with them. I suspect these are illegal miners who sneek into the diamond rich area and the security details impose instant "justice" on them. 120 lashes in a day sounds a bit impossible but who am I not to believe this guy.

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