WATCH: Zimbabwe's violent crackdown continues with reports of rapes

Reports of a violent crackdown continued on Friday in Zimbabwe as rights groups and others accused security forces of raping women during house-to-house searches.

Zimbabweans say abuses have not calmed since President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday denounced the violence as "unacceptable." The unrest began last week as people protested a steep increase in fuel prices that made gasoline the world's most expensive. The government accuses the opposition of stirring up trouble.

The army asserts that uniformed perpetrators of abuses are "bogus elements" out to tarnish its image.

Fearful residents in poor and working-class suburbs of the capital, Harare, and second city, Bulawayo, are locking themselves in at night. At least 12 people have been killed in the unrest and more than 300 wounded, scores with gunshot wounds, doctors and rights workers have said.

"We have received very disturbing reports of a number of cases of women allegedly raped by members of security forces," said Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director for Human Rights Watch. He added: "Beatings, harassment and other abuses have continued after Mnangagwa's return and there are no clear actions from the government to hold accountable those committing the abuses."

Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said she had not received any reports of rape.

Vendors in the city centre were being routinely rounded up by the military, beaten and dumped at police stations, human rights lawyer Doug Coltart said.

Dozens of civil society leaders, opposition figures and activists have gone into hiding, fearing for their lives, Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday. It noted reported rapes, "lethal force" against protesters and the targeting of health workers who treat victims.

"Children as young as 11 years old have been detained on frivolous charges," said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty's southern Africa director. "The authorities must immediately stop this merciless crackdown."

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said arrests of suspected protesters continued, with many denied bail.

On Friday the High Court in Harare said it would rule on Tuesday on an application by well-known activist and pastor Evan Mawarire to be released on bail. He has been held for a week and is charged with subversion, which carries a 20-year prison sentence. He is accused of inciting the unrest online. His lawyer rejects the allegations.

Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
16.66
+0.7%
Rand - Pound
20.16
+0.5%
Rand - Euro
16.99
+0.5%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.62
-0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.5%
Gold
1,782.54
+0.4%
Silver
20.27
+1.9%
Palladium
2,195.50
+3.1%
Platinum
941.00
+0.4%
Brent Crude
94.92
+0.8%
Top 40
63,452
+0.5%
All Share
69,896
+0.5%
Resource 10
64,422
+0.6%
Industrial 25
85,378
+0.5%
Financial 15
15,746
+0.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE