Gory images of serious human rights violations against citizens by Zimbabwe state security forces have emerged, despite attempts to sweep them under the carpet through a government shutdown on internet services during nationwide protests.
Some victims have reportedly been mutilated while others bear broken limbs after the repressive response to the three-day strike prompted by a dramatic increase in the price of fuel.
Soldiers have been accused of breaking into people’s homes, beating and arresting occupants. A soldier in Harare reportedly stepped on the hand of a sleeping five-year-old boy, breaking his fingers.
In addition, an estimated 50 people were killed in the aftermath of the demonstrations.
“The bottom line is that the use of live ammunition by security forces was excessive,” UN human rights office spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasan, said.
“This is not the way to react to expression of economic grievances by the population.”
Official figures of the government confirm the death of 10 people. Over 600 people were arrested and denied bail.
Protests broke out after President Emmerson Mnangagwa two weeks ago announced an increase of over 150% on fuel, to more than $3 per litre (R45,80).
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) defended the shutdown of social media and blamed the so-called third force for the violent protests.
Police spokeswoman, Commissioner Charity Charamba, claimed civilians clad in military and police uniforms, allegedly seized during protests in Epworth and Chegutu, perpetrated the crimes.
Mnangagwa, who was on a tour of Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia to sign oil and gas deals, was due to attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this week.