Beaten for not talking Shona

zanu_youth_militiaBULAWAYO - Gangs of militia have been accused of terrorising residents in high-density areas around Bulawayo.
The incidents began on Wednesday last week when men calling themselves City Youth, an urban division of the Zanu (PF) militia, started to gather in groups, chanting slogans.

It grew violent from Thursday night, Patrick Moyo told The Zimbabwean. They came to our houses and it seems they used a list of people who support MDC, but they were mostly after those for Welshman Ncube.

Moyo and others related how the youngsters, travelling in units of between three and eight, knocked on doors or broke into homes. There were reportedly armed with batons, sjamboks and handcuffs.

You cant just walk around with handcuffs, said Moyo. These come from the police or from prisons. He told how the youths beat him up in front of his five-year-old son.

My wife is late and I have been sick, but I always attend meetings for Welshman. They knew my house and they pulled off my clothes to underpants in front of my son, put cuffs and then they and beat me so much I was bleeding,” he said.

Moyo was then forced to walked several streets, still in his underwear, to where a pick-up truck was waiting.

Others were already in the back and they pushed me in and we went to a house, but I am not sure where because there was a canopy and it was hard to see and I was in so much pain.

He and others were beaten several times through the night.

They told me I should speak Shona but I dont know it. My father was Kalanga but he died when I was young and my mother is from West Nicholson so I only know isiNdebele. They said that this is Zimbabwe and it is a Shona country and those who cant speak must go to South Africa.

He was then blindfolded and driven to a point near his home.

Before we left they took off the cuffs and gave me some shorts and a shirt to wear but they had much blood on them. I think maybe the owner of the clothes was dead.

He said he was the only one who had been abducted in his underwear.

Other reports confirm that Zanu (PF) militia have been harassing people and demanding that residents answer their questions in Shona. When victims could not reply, they were beaten.

Other witnesses claim they were told the militia would return and take their children, so they grow up speaking Shona.

From 1983 to 1987, a unit of the army known as the Fifth Brigade, and led by Lt Col Perence Shiri who now heads the Air Force of Zimbabwe, carried out massacres in Matabeleland, leaving about 20,000 people dead and half-a-million homeless or displaced.

Shiri’s troops would ask on entering a village, “Why can’t you speak Shona?” and then take away the adult men. Today, bodies from what is known as the Gukurahundi Genocide lie in mass graves, and families who try to retrieve the dead face arrest.

There are no confirmed reports of killings in Bulawayo and nothing to suggest a return to Gukurahundi, but this is the first time since 1987 that people have been beaten for not speaking Shona.

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