THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday claimed that seven of its activists had been killed this week while several others were seriously injured in politically-motivated violence as the June 27 presidential run-off looms.
The opposition party said several houses belonging to its officials and activists were also petrol bombed as violence escalates in urban as well as rural areas.
The seven activists allegedly killed included four of the partyâ€™s youths from Chitungwiza, a primary school teacher from Zaka, a headmaster from Mutoko, and wife of MDC councillor-elect in Hatcliffe, Emmanuel Chiroto. He had earlier been nominated for mayor.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said the four youths were found dead on Wednesday morning after a suspected Zanu PF militia group had abducted them in Chitungwiza the previous day.
He identified the four as Yuana Jenti, Archford Chipiyo, Ngoni Knight and one Tyson. “There is a sombre mood in Chitungwiza as the residents are failing to come to terms with this shocking incident,” Chamisa said.
“The four were abducted at the MDC councillor for Ward 19 Philimon Chipiyoâ€™s house in Unit F. Among the four was his son Archford.”
He alleged that before the abduction, the home of the councillor and four other houses in the area were petrol bombed by suspected Zanu PF activists.
One house belongs to St Maryâ€™s MP-elect Marvellous Khumalo.
According to MDC provincial chairman for Chitungwiza, Martin Magaya, the MDC youths were guarding the house of Chipiyo following threats from Zanu PF supporters.
“On Tuesday night, Zanu PF youths visited Chipiyoâ€™s house and made threats that they would attack the Chipiyo family. This resulted in the two parties fighting and Zanu PF youths fled as they were overpowered,” Chipiyo said.
“After a while the Zanu PF thugs returned with reinforcements. They threw petrol bombs, smashed windows, doors, and the roof collapsed. They abducted the four MDC youths and made off with them.”
In Hatcliffe, Chiroto said his wife was found dead on Tuesday night at a farm close to the area after her abduction on Monday evening.
Chirotoâ€™s wife and his four-year-old son were abducted by suspected Zanu PF militia, who attacked his home and dumped the boy in Marlborough the same night.
Speaking to the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Chiroto said he was devastated by his wifeâ€™s death.
“I donâ€™t know the meaning of all this. I am confused right now. My wife was found brutally murdered. This is so painful,” he said.
He said over the weekend, Hatcliffe MDC activists Judas Nyumba and Jairosi Karasi had been targeted by Zanu PF youths and were taken to a base at Pamuzinda new stands where they were beaten.
“I became suspicious and knew I was next on target,” Chiroto said.
“I had sent my wife to Chitungwiza so that she could be safe and it was only this weekend when she decided to visit that she met her fate. The militia visited my house on Monday evening and threw petrol bombs, smashed the doors and windows, getting into every room from the kitchen, dining room and bedroom, and eventually abducted my family. My son was found on Tuesday morning unharmed in Marlborough.”
In Zaka, MDC MP-elect for Zaka Central, Harrison Mudzuri, said a schoolteacher was killed by suspected Zanu PF militia over the weekend while 30 people, including the elderly, women and children, from Tsigo village were abducted on Wednesday.
“The teacher, Simba Chikomba of Chikomba village, Antony Jamu, Venancio Goka and Meynard Mupondi were abducted over the weekend and taken to a Zanu PF base at Ngwangwava where they were beaten by the militia with logs and metal bars,” Mudzuri said. “Chikomba died as a result of the injuries while others are in a critical condition.” He said the abducted were taken to a base in Chinyabako.
“Villagers are being forced to contribute a bucket of maize meal and $300 million to feed the Zanu PF thugs. The violence has displaced almost all of our polling agents and villagers are being threatened by being told that this time there will be cameras in ballot boxes,” Mudzuri said.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said this week that a headmaster by the name Shepherd Chewu in Mutoko District, who had been abducted at his school residence by suspected Zanu PF militia, was later found dead in the bush near Rukanda Business Centre.
According to a source who preferred anonymity, the peri-urban Epworth has in the past two weeks turned into a war zone. On Tuesday night two Zanu PF groups clashed in Kumagada area.
“The violence in Epworth is complicated,” the source said. “It started about a fortnight ago when Zanu PF youths started burning houses belonging to MDC supporters. This angered MDC youths who retaliated.”
In Chisipite, a group of suspected Zanu PF youths were said to be causing unrest, targeting gardeners and housemaids.
A gardener who spoke to the Independent said of late the youths â€” based behind a garage close to Chisipite shopping centre â€” have been moving around collecting youths in surrounding areas to attend night vigils.
The gardener said he was forced to attend one of the Zanu PF meetings in the area last Sunday.
“There were about 170 youths at the base and those who failed chanting some of the slogans and even the proper way of raising their fist were beaten. During the night we marched to Borrowdale singing,” the gardener said.
“When we got to robots close to Borrowdale Race Course we were divided into three groups each with its command leader. My group went and destroyed some houses close to the racecourse. Some of the residents were beaten with sticks. We just had to do what they wanted as they would beat us heavily.”
According to MDC MP-elect for Mazowe Central, Shepherd Mushonga, violence broke out in Mapfumo Village in Chiweshe following an altercation between MDC and Zanu PF youths.
“Zanu PF youths attacked Mapfumo village,” Mushonga said. “Violence then broke out between MDC and Zanu PF. Zanu PF youths burnt maize granaries and houses.”
The NCA in a statement on Wednesday said the homestead of its chairman Lovemore Madhuku in Madhuku village in rural Chipinge was attacked by suspected war veterans and Zanu PF youth militia on Tuesday evening.
The attack led to the assault and arrest of Madhukuâ€™s father, his aunt as well as 10 other family members. The attack comes barely five days after the homestead of NCA spokesperson Madock Chivasa was reportedly attacked by a group of Zanu PF youths in Bikita West.
Violence has also been recorded in areas like Bikita East where a number of MDC activists were abducted.
Efforts to get a comment from police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena were in vain last night as he said he was in a marathon meeting.