One of those forced to drink the poison was Hilton Chironga, from Howard in
Chiweshe. On 20th June he suffered horrific facial injuries, described as
corrosive burns, caused by the Chinese made herbicide when he, together with
his mother, his sister and a neighbour were forced to drink it at a militia
base at Tetra farm in the area.
Shingi Nyoni, an investigator into human rights abuses, told us Hilton’s
brother Gibson was shot dead by the militia the same day he was forced to
consume poison. Two other people died in the same attack.
‘Hilton and his mother are currently admitted at a hospital in Harare. One
other person identified as Madamombe died from the poison. To date he only
takes liquids, milk and soup and is in constant pain,’ Nyoni said.
Paraquat is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It has had
a tarnished reputation because of its acute oral toxicity and ill-health
associated with operators – particularly in the plantation sectors of many
It is highly toxic if swallowed and as little as one teaspoonful of the
active ingredient is fatal. Death occurs up to 30 days after ingestion.
Apart from forcing people to drink the herbicide, the militia and soldiers
inflicted serious injuries on others by dipping their knobkerries and sticks
into paraquat, before beating their victims. This has caused serious wounds
that will not heal.
One of these victims is Patience Mapombere from Chaona, Chiweshe. She was
assaulted on 5th May, in an attack in which 6 men died. Attempts to apply
skin grafts to her serious open wounds have failed. Patience remains
‘To make matters worse, most of these victims are not getting any help from
the government to deal with their injuries. They need specialized medicines
and doses for their wounds and treatment,’ Nyoni added.
The injuries to his face are corrosive burns caused by a poison, Chinese
made herbicide – paraquat, which he and his mother, and sister, and a
neighbour were forced to drink by ZANU PF militia at a base at Tetra Farm,
in Chiweshe, on Friday, June 20. His brother was shot dead by the militia,
who also killed 2 other people.