By Lance Guma
13 November 2009
The latest MDC-T newsletter carries a report saying that a dozen gun-toting soldiers ransacked an orphanage in Bulawayo last week and beat up children in the process. The soldiers went on the rampage in the Trennance suburb of the city, in what has been described as an operation to look for MDC supporters.
The Changing Times newsletter spoke to Charles Ncube who runs the Thuthuka Orphanage, and he confirmed that soldiers wielding AK-47 rifles arrived in an army truck and forced their way into the premises. They accused authorities at the centre of habouring MDC activists.
But Ncube says they suspected that a ‘disgruntled’ soldier, named only as Tafadzwa, may have been behind the raid. Tafadzwa is said to have visited the orphanage trying ‘to propose love’ to a 15 year old girl at the centre but was turned away by authorities. He later returned with a dozen soldiers as reinforcements and they unleashed ‘an orgy of indiscriminate violence at the orphanage leaving scores of children nursing injuries,’ with 7 of them said to be in serious condition.
‘Seven children have injuries on their faces, ankles, thighs and backs as a result of baton and weapon battering,’ Ncube said. The children were initially taken to Mpilo Hospital but were later referred to the Galen House private clinic. Ncube said they were battling to raise the money to pay for X-rays and medical tests.
The MDC has identified Sergeant Tshabalala, who is stationed at Bulawayo’s State House, as the ring leader of the group. After the soldiers left the orphanage they then went on to Trennance Shopping Centre and started assaulting shoppers. During the chaos they kept accusing shoppers of being MDC supporters.
During last year’s bloody presidential election, over 200 senior soldiers were deployed in the provinces to coordinate ‘Operation Mavhotera Papi - Where Did You Vote?’ soon after the MDC had defeated ZANU PF in the March elections. Over 200 people are thought to have been killed with tens of thousands more maimed in violent retributions. Many observers are concerned that soldiers are now becoming increasingly violent and believe they are completely immune from prosecution. A prospect that does not bode well for the future of Zimbabwe.