Zimbabwe must investigate violence against women human rights defenders now!
Three women human rights defenders in Zimbabwe were arrested following a peaceful protest and then violently attacked by security forces, including rape and torture.
On 13 May 2020, Joanna Mamombe (a member of Parliament), Cecilia Chimbiri, and Netsai Marova attended a peaceful demonstration to protest the Government of Zimbabwe’s failure to address hunger facing vulnerable communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The three women were arrested at a police checkpoint as they were leaving.
Following their arrest, they were taken from police custody by five unidentified men, not in uniform, who are believed to be state security agents. They were held incommunicado for 36 hours during which time they underwent torture, rape, and physical assault. They were rearrested on charges of making false statements prejudicial to the state after their ordeal became public and are currently remanded without bail pending trial for several days, during which time, due to COVID-19 restrictions, they were denied visits from their family or friends. They were eventually released on bail, but the violence against them has yet to be properly investigated, they still need proper medical attention for their injuries, and they still face charges.
As Chairperson of the African Union, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is uniquely placed to push the authorities in Zimbabwe to do the right thing and release the three women, treat their injuries, investigate the violence they suffered at the hands of Zimbabwean security forces, and ensure they receive a fair trial. Tell President Ramaphosa that Zimbabwe must investigate the violent attack against the three women human rights activists now!