Renewed terror in Chiadzwa diamond fields
MARANGE – The gigantic diamond fields in Chiadzwa have come to resemble a torture barrack, as rogue soldiers are allegedly unleashing a reign of terror by attacking defenseless villagers in a renewed act of human rights abuses.
A recent visit by Zim Morning Post revealed that the latest rounds of abuses by members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has become unbearable, as they are reportedly robbing villagers of their money and valuables.
Affected villagers said under the current deployment of soldiers, the situation had ironically worsened.
It is reported that on October 18, armed soldiers robbed a shop belonging to one Audacious Nyazika at Chingome Business Centre in Marange and made away with a paltry ZWL250 and an Itel cellphone.
Revealing his ordeal to Zim Morning Post, Nyazika said: “It was on October 18 at around midnight when the soldiers arrived at my shop through the backdoor. They told me to go home and sleep, but l told them l was guarding my shop.
“They forced the door open and told me to go and sleep. They said they were the ones in power and in charge of the country.
“They started assaulting me all over the body using open hands and booted feet.
“They took away ZWL250 and a cellphone. I suffered a cut on the eye and a broken leg.”
A medical report seen by this publication revealed that Nyazika had been assaulted and suffered some internal injuries.
The case was reported at Marange Police Station under RRB 4190395.
Another victim, Onias Machengana (34) was also reportedly assaulted by the soldiers who were drunk for allegedly moving without an identity card.
Machengana was at Chingome Business Centre and was attacked by button sticks, booted feet and open hands all over the body for allegedly defying lockdown restrictions.
He also reportedly lost some cash and a cellphone.
A medical report in possession of this publication confirmed of serious internal injuries.
Businesspersons there said the army had unlawfully ordered the business operators at Zengeni Business Centre to close their shops.
“There have been fears all over. They come here and force us to close our shops, but if you give them money and beer they will not close the shop or harass you,” said a businessman.
“This is another terror tactic that we have succumbed to. I do not know whether this will end. It is best to close the shops because there is no reason to continue operating, as all the profits are being forcefully taken by the soldiers,” added another shop owner.
Human rights defender and Director of Centre for Natural Resource and Governance (CNRG), Farai Maguwu, said Marange had become a zone of lawlessness and impunity.
“There is urgent need to avert the human rights abuses among the people of Marange.
“It is high time that government and humanitarian agencies worked together and try to avert human rights abuses. It is a sad situation in Marange,” explained Maguwu.
He also said the police and army had turned Marange into a nightmare.
“The police and army are responsible for serious abuses, killings, torture, beatings and harassment,” Maguwu said.
CNRG, Maguwu said, was calling on government to uphold the Constitution by immediately halting the torture and wanton killings of people in Marange.
“Section 53 of the Zimbabwe Constitution states that no person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” he said, adding that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission must investigate cases of torture and extrajudicial killings in Marange and hold perpetrators accountable.
“Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights must investigate and prosecute perpetrators of human rights violations in Marange to bring to an end the impunity they enjoy,” Maguwu said.
He said the Kimberley Process (KP) must be bold enough and assist Zimbabwe address the adverse human rights situation in Marange.
“The appalling human rights situation in Marange is a stain on the entire diamond industry.
“These tainted diamonds from Marange fields continue to find their way into global markets because Zimbabwe is deemed to be KP compliant,” he said.
James Mupfumi, the Director of Centre for Research and Development (CRD), said diamond mining in Marange was being done at the backdrop of human rights violations.
Mupfumi said: “Government must now undertake human rights impact assessment sessions in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for adverse human rights impacts.”
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) deputy director Shamiso Mutisi said the organisation had begun to conduct human rights sessions among security forces.
“Using our own resources and expertise, ZELA conducted human rights sessions for ZCDC managers and field officers at the mine site in Marange.
“The primary objective was to help inculcate a culture of corporate accountability, responsible mining and respect for human rights at ZCDC following many reported cases of abuse of villagers and artisanal miners by private and public security agents,” Mutisi said.
He also revealed that ZELA planned to conduct another human rights training session for ZCDC private security guards in due course.
“This approach is meant to assist ZCDC security and State security to apply internationally accepted law enforcement standards and the minimum use of force when apprehending illegal miners and dealers in Marange,” Mutisi said.
He also said Zimbabwe should not look too far in finding solutions.
“The country can go a long way in addressing this by dealing with issues within its own courtyard. Political will is the starting point,” he explained.
There have been growing calls for serious engagement between government and human rights bodies to relook at the ongoing human rights abuses in Marange.
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