There are no limits to the brutality that Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF government is prepared to employ in ensuring its continued grip on power. Recently, human rights activists and opposition supporters were abducted and thrown into the notorious Chikurubi Prison.
Here they have been subjected to torture and beating. Very little food has been provided. They are not allowed to see outside visitors. Their captors have also forced them to confess to having undergone military training in Botswana to launch an armed rebellion to topple the Zimbabwe government. These allegations, denied by Botswana, are widely accepted as merely an excuse to supress rightful dissent in Zimbabwe and force its populace into fearful, silent submission.
One of those imprisoned is a two-year-old little toddler called Nigel Mutemagau who was abducted three months ago along with his two parents. Little Nigel has been beaten in front of his mother in attempt to force her to admit to the charges leveled against her.
As Zimbabwean blogger Denford Magora says:
He can not speak up for himself. And if the stories from the lawyers are true, he is puzzled as he is beaten by strangers, not knowing what crime he committed to deserve this. He sees his mother, whom he instinctively considers his protector, watch helplessly while he is being beaten.
The Chikurubi Prison is no place for a child. Magora describes it:
Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, where two year old Nigel is being kept in solitary confinement, is notorious for its atrocious conditions even during Zimbabwe’s better days. Now however, the conditions are much worse. Prison authorities do not have enough food to feed the inmates. They are struggling to make ends meet, much like the rest of Zimbabwe’s public sector. Against this background, the prison authorities say that they have been given instructions not to allow food to be brought to the inmates (including to children) from the outside. No visits from relatives are allowed for these particular prisoners, including for 2 year old Nigel. Even lawyers struggle to gain access and when they do, there is always a state official present.
The continued persecution of not only opposition activists but a two-year-old toddler must immediately come to an end. It is imperative for South Africa — and the world — must act now to pressure the Zimbabwean government into ending their vicious assault on basic human freedoms.
To remain silent is to condone what is happening in Zimabwe. We cannot, for the sake of freedom and respect for the dignity and equality of all, turn away and ignore this shameful, horrifying state of affairs.