The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) rarely admits to wrongdoing, officials from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) told a Commission of Inquiry probing the August 1 post-election violence that claimed six lives.
The commission yesterday heard testimonies from journalist Maynard Manyowa, an ‘‘A’’ Level student Simeon Chipukaso who was shot in the leg during the army shootings, Attorney-General Prince Machaya and the ZHLR’s senior lawyer Modecai Mahlangu.
In a report tabled before the Kgalema Motlante-led commission, the ZHLR hammered the commander of the ZDF Phillip Valerio Sibanda’s testimony, saying it was clear that the army was in the habit of shirking responsibility.
“We have not yet had a situation where the army have accepted wrongdoing; it is a culture that has developed in so many years,” he said.
Adding that Sibanda’s account “did not make sense for a man of his position.”
When he appeared before the commission, the army general vowed that none of the soldiers shot any civilian on August 1.
Yesterday, Mahlangu said it was pointless for government to set up a commission for the criminal acts that occurred on August 1, saying the perpetrators should have appropriately appeared before criminal courts.
He said the seven-member commission must be careful not to be used to whitewash or conceal the brutality that occurred on the fateful day
Manyowa gave a witness report on the occurrences of August 1, stating that he has footage he filmed from behind the soldiers.
The journalist said the soldiers he came across were using hand whips to beat up civilians.
Chipukaso gave a harrowing account of how he got shot while in a crowd together with his mother along Harare Street.
He told the commission that when they had embarked on a kombi back home, two armed soldiers suddenly appeared and fired some warning shots, ordering commuters to disembark and walk home.
Chipukaso said he suddenly felt some pain in his leg while running and was only assisted by good samaritans that ferried him and his mother to Mbare Police Station to make a report before proceeding to Harare Central Hospital, were he was treated and advised to return for review next February.
The Motlante commission, which was appointed in September, is expected to complete its task next month. In an interview with journalists after the session, the commission spokesperson John Masuku said hearings will resume next Monday, where MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and his party’s deputy national chairperson are expected to appear.