To set the scene:
On 19th February 2008, members of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) were engaged in a peaceful “Save our Education” campaign in the streets of Harare. When they approached the 4th Street bus terminus they were apprehended by, as yet unidentified, youths from the ZANU (PF) building. The 9 teachers were taken inside the building and subjected to all manner of brutalization including but not limited to assaults with clenched feet, open palms, booted feet and assaults with iron rods. Female teachers among the victims were subjected to verbal abuse of the most degrading and inhuman nature. One female teacher was stripped naked in full view of her male colleagues and assailants alike and had her genital area repeatedly trampled upon (read more from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights).
These violent youths, themselves victims of the crumbling education system, are amongst those who shake their heads and bemoan the state of things in Zimbabwe. It won’t be long before they join the trek south, looking for the very future that the people who they are assaulting are campaigning for.
Their duplicity, and their stupidity makes me furious.
It takes enormous courage for individuals to go out in public in Zimbabwe and campaign for their rights and the rights of others. The PTUZ’s sustained efforts to bring positive change to the education sector are all the more amazing considering the punitive environment in which they have to campaign.
And, given the callous and cruel behaviour of the police in response to this incident, it is difficult to differentiate between the police and the thugs.
The Police took all the victims to Harare central police station and laid them along an office corridor at CID Law & Order Section where they were still lying and writhing in visible pain at the time lawyers deployed to attend to them eventually found them at around 1400hrs. Lawyers were initially denied access by the officer in charge of CID Law & Order Section Harare Central Police Station namely; one Detective Chief Inspector Manjengwa. One lawyer was forcibly escorted from the victims as he tried to do a physical count of them and hand-over medication to one of the victims Mr. Raymond Majongwe. Offers to ferry the victims to a hospital were turned down by the police.
If you share our outrage at this blatant disregard for the teachers’ right to raise awareness about the plight of education in Zimbabwe, please write in solidarity to:
- Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
P.O. Box CR 620, Cranborne, Harare, Zimbabwe
And in protest to:
- Commissioner of Police
Zimbabwe Republic Police
P.O.Box CY34, Causeway, Zimbabwe
- The Officer Commanding Harare Central Police Station
PO Box CY 154
- The Ministry of Justice
Post Bag 7704
- The President’s Office
Post Bag 7700
- Your local Member of Parliament
Please make a point of raising awareness of this issue in your social circles.