78 reported gunshot wounds: Concern over state brutality in Zimbabwe protests

A school boy looks at a burning barricade during a shutdown demonstration in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (Zinyange Auntony/Getty Images)
A school boy looks at a burning barricade during a shutdown demonstration in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (Zinyange Auntony/Getty Images)

The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) is concerned by reports of alleged serious human rights violations and the commission of atrocities by the police, government armed forces and Zanu-PF members in Zimbabwe.

"SALC has received credible reports that the police, government security forces and members of the Zanu-PF have been using live ammunition against its (Zimbabwe's) own citizens who have been peacefully protesting in exercise of their rights under the Constitution," it said.

"There are credible reports that doctors have treated 78 confirmed cases of gunshot wounds," SALC said in a statement on Friday.

This comes after reports of a violent crackdown in that country after nationwide protests sparked by a massive fuel price hike.

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

SALC said it had also learnt that the police and government security forces were still allegedly using lethal force against citizens.

"There is strong evidence suggesting that torture, extrajudicial killings, intimidation, raids on homes for suspected leaders of the protesters, indiscriminate traffic stops, displacement and arbitrary detentions are taking place on a daily basis in the country," the legal centre said.

Rape allegations

In addition, citizens who have been detained have not been allowed access to legal representation.

"These reports point towards gross human rights violations and raise serious concerns that Zimbabwe government officials are committing serious international crimes including torture and crimes against humanity," SALC said.

The organisation warned that should Zimbabwe fail to fulfil its obligation to investigate crimes allegedly committed by the police, security forces and Zanu-PF, the international community will intervene.

News24 reported earlier on Friday that the violent crackdown continued as security forces were accused of rape during house-to-house searches.

Poor and working-class residents of the capital city, Harare, are said to be locking themselves in at night.

At least 12 people have reportedly been killed in the unrest and more than 300 have been wounded, scores having been shot, doctors and rights workers have said.

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

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