Fear Grips Zim Squatters

The squatters who have been released and have since returned to their base, have been sleeping in the open.

“Please do not write anything about us because the police said they will beat us up if we do so,” one woman at the settlement told Radio VOP. “The problem is that when they come to beat us up you will be in the comfort of your homes.”

The 52, who were released without any charges, were part of the 55 people who included five minor children who had been arrested and detained at Harare Central Police Station for more than 15 hours. Three are still in police custody in connection with some unspecified crimes.

The ZRP members, some of whom were armed and also accompanied by police dogs torched over 100 shacks which had been erected in the posh suburb of Borrowdale, where President Robert Mugabe also lives. Some residents lost clothes and some property during the arson attack, which was a fresh reminder to Operation Murambatsvina, which left more than 700 000 families homeless.The police ordered the settlers to remove their possessions from the shacks and go and built homes in their rural areas.

The squatters said they were still to recover from the shock they suffered during the police operation.They said police fired live bullets into the air threatening to shoot at anyone who resisted their actions.

“The police do not want anyone to know about what is happening here. They said they will come at night and deal with us. We are all afraid here,” said an elderly woman.

They said a non-governmental organisation had assisted them with blankets and food handouts.

Influential rights group, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) assited with the release of the arrested squatters.