Torture killings, beatings still rampant in Chiadzwa: Report
A NEW report by the International Peace Information Service (IPIS) has revealed that torture, beatings, killings, illegal detention and sexual violence on local women by the military and police in Marange are still rampant and questioned how Zimbabwe was allowed to assume chairmanship of the Kimberly Process (KP) Cerfication Scheme under these circumstances.
The report obtained by The NewsHawks this week is titled From laggard to leader? Zimbabwe’s turbulent diamond history. It was co-authored by Hans Merket and Jonathan Weenink with financial support from the European Union. Following a frenzied diamond rush by citizens, the government declared the diamond fields in Marange a protecyed area under Protected Places and Areas Act (PPAA) in a bid to plug leakages of the gems.
Although PPAA has been on the country’s statutes since 1979, it was gazetted to take effect for Marange in 2007. The PPAA law empowers the government to control the movement and conduct of people in protected areas.
An authorised officer like a soldier or police agent under discretionary powers on people seeking to enter “or be in a protected area and may detain any such person for the purpose of searching them”.
The section also gives power to the authorising officer to deal with any other matter in a manner that the officer considers to be necessary or desirable.
However, IPIS in its latest report bemoaned the gross human rights violations that are increasingly taking place in Marange. Part of the report reads: “After the brutal crackdown on artisanal miners by the Zimbabwe police and military from 2006 to 2008, the violence in Marange became systemic. Moreover, a designation of Marange as a protected area in 2007 incited heavy militarisation to control access and movement of people.”
“As it now became illegal for locals to enter the area without clearance, those found in or near the diamond fields risked brutal repression by state security forces. This resulted in a stream of reports and testimonies of torture, beatings, killings, illegal detention and sexual violence by the military or the police.”
The report also reveals that local people in Marange are being subjected to dog bites by state security agents manning the diamond fields in flagrant violation of human rights.
“A horrific practice, which surfaces in community testimonies with striking regularity, is the setting of dogs on those entering the area illegally, in often cases while the hands of victims are tied behind their backs.”
“This is evidenced by numerous reports and photographs circulating of maimed faces, limbs and corpses,” reads the report. Authors of the report also raised concern over how Zimbabwe was made to assume the KP chairmanship in the wake of serious human rights violations in Marange.
“Diamond industry observers were surprised when it was announced in November 2021 that Zimbabwe would assume the rotating chairmanship of the Kimberley Process (KP) in 2023. The fact that, of all 59 countries participating in the world’s leading diamond control regime, it had to be Zimbabwe, was yet another proof to some that the KP is not interested in curbing human rights violations,” reads the report, adding: “These sentiments harked back to events in 2009, when the world was shocked by reports of severe violence, including more than 200 killings, and human rights abuses perpetrated by government forces in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields.”
In September last year, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) recorded a dramatic upsurge in human rights violations by state security agents in Marange diamond fields, as well as plunder of precious gems by rogue syndicates with the protection of law enforcement agents.
The NewsHawks obtained photos of badly wounded citizens abused by the state security agents as well as footage of decomposing bodies suspected to be from such incidents.
The CRD in its report said 13 state security bases and checkpoints dotted around the protected diamond area of Marange were porous and unsustainable because state security forces responsible for manning the area are corrupt and compromised.
A case in particular which was picked by CRD is of Maud Makowa of Muedzengwa village, who says she was assaulted by a soldier called Munashe Masvaure stationed at Airstrip base in Chirasika village for turning down his sexual advances.
She was assaulted at her shop on 14 September 2022. In another case again picked by CRD, Thomas Ziruwi said he was assaulted by three unidentified soldiers on 12 September 2022 at 7pm in Tonhorai village of Marange.
The unidentified soldiers jumped into Ziruwi’s scotch cart without his permission and severely beat him up for questioning their harassment of fellow villagers in the community.
“CRD condemns rampant and reactionary attacks on citizens by state security forces in Marange-protected diamond areas. The attacks have seen an increased number of people falling victim to sexual harassment, assault and murder at the hands of state security forces during the course of this year. CRD observed that state security agencies are manipulating state powers enshrined in the Protected Places and Areas Act (PPAA) (chapter 11.12) to commit these horrendous crimes in Marange,” read the CRD report.