Zimbabwe + 1 more

Record influx of refugees at Musina

More than 800 Zimbabweans fleeing violence ahead of the referendum arrived at Compassion Refugee Centre in Musina at the weekend.

“Normally, we receive a total number of 20 to 30 refugees from Zimbabwe per month, but last week we were shocked to register 873 Zimbabweans,” said Pastor Simon Sithole, who runs the centre.

“The world keeps ignoring the deteriorating Zimbabwean situation which is very sad. I am now convinced that during their upcoming elections there will be a repeat of the same scenario as of 2008 where we saw more than 10,000 Zimbabweans residing on our streets here,” added Sithole.

“It’s really sad to see traumatised women and wounded children. They share appalling stories on how Zanu (PF) supporters, soldiers and cops victimised them for not supporting their party.”

John Moyo (32) escaped death at the hands of police told The Zimbabwean he was tortured for encouraging the community to vote ‘YES’ for a new Zimbabwe.

“I was targeted as the leader of youths in Masvingo who were challenging the community to usher a new country through a ‘YES’ vote. I spent three days in police cells without trial and was only released when a friend of mine bribed officers on night shift to release me. It’s very sad for me because I ended up not voting because of fear and harassment suffered at the hands of police who are paid through the tax money I was paying all these years”.

“I also had to leave my family behind who have confirmed to me that there are some men who constantly visit our home with their unmarked vehicles, and I now fear for my life,” said Moyo.

Yeukai Shiri (25,) a mother of three from Buhera, said she was victimised for refusing to tell the cops the whereabouts of her husband.

“My husband always challenges police not to harass villagers and two weeks ago he decided to leave the country after he was detained and beaten-up. He suffered a lot of wounds on his back and he was nose bleeding when they dropped him in the bush after detaining him for five days. I am now worried because I had to leave my other two kids behind because of the pressure I was getting from the police,” she said.

Analyst Masimba Dube urged SADC to intervene and stop the violence perpetrated by Zanu (PF) and its security forces. “The best thing to do is for SADC to deploy its soldiers to maintain peace in our country before it explodes,” he said.