236 arrested, 12 soldiers tortured to death in CIO search for weapons

manfred_nowak_tortureHARARE -- At least 12 soldiers died last week after they were brutally tortured by military intelligence agents following the disappearance of an assortment of guns and bombs from Pomona barracks, we can reveal. (Pictured: UN torture expert Manfred Nowak Was deported from Zimbabwe last week)

Unidentified people, according to our military sources, more than a week ago used blowtorches to break into the amoury at Pomona and made off 20 brand new Chinese-made AK 47 rifles, five motor bomb launchers, a light machine gun and a pistol.

The dozen soldiers, who were in a coma, died at Two Medical Company Hospital at KGV1 in Harare while soldiers are still admitted at the hospital and in a coma after undergoing what some soldiers described as ‘robust and intense’ interrogation at the hands of the Military Intelligence Division.

The torture sessions were conducted at Two Brigade by Field Security Unit, a section of the Military Intelligence Division, headed by an officer identified only as Major Kembo.

The bodies of the murdered soldiers have been sent to One Commando Regiment, along Airport Road which stores bodies of soldiers who die in military hospitals.

Angolans or Congolese

A total of 236 soldiers and support staff based at Pomona Barracks were arrested on Thursday night and detained at different locations.

“Pomona Barracks was overrun by Presidential Guard which is now in charge. Everybody who was around was arrested while those who had just gone away on annual leave have been ordered to return and surrender.

“Females based at the Barracks have been detained at Chikurubi Maximu prison while their male counterparts are at Harare Central Remand Prison,” a senior officer revealed.

Soldiers who spoke to this newspaper revealed that although Major Kembo, the only known Zimbabwean, led the torture sessions the beatings were being done by foreigners.

“The detained soldiers are being taken to Two Brigade in batches for sessions of torture but we have received information that the torture is being done by either Angolans or Congolese, nobody has been able to verify that,” a soldier said.

The torture sessions took place as the government last week barred United Nations torture Manfred Nowak from visiting the country on a mission to probe torture and the treatment of prisoners.

A South African Development Community ministerial delegation was also in the country to assess implementation of the Global Political Agreement that among other key objectives calls for upholding of human rights in the country.

More guns stolen

According to our sources, more weapons were stolen from ZNA armouries with 15 AK 47 rifles were stolen from One Brigade in Bulawayo recently but were discovered hidden under a bridge last month but the issue was quietly swept under the carpet.

After the Pomona break in, Zanu (PF) tried to implicate the Movement for Democratic Change party by raiding one of its houses in Chisipite last Friday.

However observers said the raid on the MDC property was diversionary.

“The theft of arms is part of the Zanu (PF) internal struggles in which the factions fighting to one day succeed Robert Mugabe have now resolved to eliminate opponents using stolen and untraceable weapons,” said a Harare based political journalist.

Other analysts argued that the theft of weapons was a plan to crackdown on the MDC but added that the vicious reaction against the soldiers could be the clearest sign that suspicions were high that one of the Zanu (PF) factions was behind the theft.

Another Harare based analyst said the theft of arms of war was a reflection of the internal fights between Retired Army General, Solomon Mujuru and Defence Minister, Emmerson Munangagwa.

“What is happening is that the two, Mujuru and Munangagwa are flexing their muscles within the military ranks and the negative effect is that there could be hired snipers to eliminate real and imagined opponents in the race to succeed or remove Mugabe.

“Another very strong possibility is that junior and middle ranking officers are disgruntled against their leaders and are preparing to fight their leadership.”

A government audit of employees employed by the ministry of youth has revealed that between April and June 2008, more than 10 000 Zanu (PF) youth militia and graduates from Border Gezi Youth Centre were employed under mysterious circumstances without the jobs being advertised.

There are no records or files for those who were employed. War collaborators, mujibhas, have also been mobilised with two big meetings having been held in the Midlands and Manicaland.

Last week, a soldier from Mbalabala Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant James Kambarume told a Bulawayo magistrate that he had stolen an AK 47 rifle and sold it for US$25 to supplement his income.

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