A group of war veterans and Zanu PF youth were demanding at least US $ 2 from each trader.
Over 20 traders from Tanaiwa and Takawira flea markerts here were taken to Masvingo General Hospital for treatment.
The traders had been ordered to pay the money by the end of last week, but most failed to meet the deadline. Those who failed to submit their contributions to Masvingo Informal Traders Association (MITA) president, Gilbert Chikwata, were accused of being Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
“We were informed that we should donate the money, which will be used for Independence, but because we make very little profits here, we argued that donations must not be compulsory,” said Amos Mugari. “Most of us lost our wares. They took some clothes among other things to compensate the money which they wanted.”
Gilbert Chikwata, describing the assaults said: “No …it was not that brutal, they were faking pain and going to hospital was a matter of magnifying the degree of assault. They were only forced to either pay or give wares equivalent to money. People should take Independence seriously and contribute towards it well in advance to avoid embarrassment.”
However, a trader said: “We have been donating but you would later discover that those who come to collect the money use it for their own benefit.”
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector, Prosper Mugauri, said the police was yet to establish what actually happened.
He, however, confirmed that some people who were assaulted filed a report at Chikato police station.
“I do not have actual details of what happen I must get in touch with Chikato police station first and get the facts,” said Mugauri.