The Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) strongly condemns the abduction and torture of three young women leaders namely Hon Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova. The violations came after the three participated in a peaceful flash protest in Warren Park, Harare on the 13th of May 2020 over lack of social safety nets in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown. The women leaders were then abducted at a police roadblock near Warren Park on their way home by four suspected state security agents who then took them to Harare Central police station but later on waylaid them to an unknown torture camp.

The three suffered horrific sexual abuse, they had their breast sucked and guns inserted in their anal passage. They were also made to sing, march and dance non-stop for more than 24 hours. They were assaulted all over their bodies with iron rods. The perpetrators also cut them on their backs using razor blades as part of the torture process. WALPE director, Ms. Sitabile Dewa and programmes manager, Ms. Batanayi Gwangwawa visited the three leaders at the hospital where they narrated horrific ordeals of torture. It is unbelievable how a human being can do that to another human being. The three need all the support they can get in order to get over the traumatic experience.

It is painful and disheartening to see young leaders traumatized, shocked, scared, brutalized and abused like that. Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri are aspiring women leaders and members of WALPE. Both Netsai and Cecilia aspire to become Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 2023 national elections. Such acts of brutality by state agents scare away women from freely, actively and fully participating in political leadership and decision-making processes. The achievement of gender parity in Zimbabwe will remain a pipeline dream if the culture of rape, torture and enforced disappearance is not urgently addressed.

We urgently call for:

  • The Ministry of Home affairs to come clean on what really transpired starting with investigating members of the police and army who were manning the National sports stadium roadblock where the trio where apprehended by the perpetrators in consultation with the security details at the roadblock. The ministry must make sure those responsible face the full wrath of the law.
  • The Independent Commissions that support democracy, i.e. the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission to launch investigations into the serious human rights violations and do whatever possible within their powers to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
  • The Government to fully implement national, regional and international instruments and provisions that protect women from torture and other inhumane and degrading treatments.
  • The Government must create a conducive environment for women to freely and fully participate in democratic and governance processes without fear of abuse and harassment.
  • Action from all progressive women’s rights defenders and activists, male gender champions to speak up and add their voice against state sanctioned brutality on women activists.

As WALPE we wish the three leaders a quick recovery and pray that such cases of torture will never see the light of day in Zimbabwe again!

Source: Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE)