Mugabe's Victims: 'They Were Beating Us Everywhere'

The children sat against the walls of the room while their mothers were beaten. They were spared from the attacks except when they grew afraid and clung to their mothers. In those instances both mother and child would be struck until the child withdrew.

While the women were assaulted, their attackers threatened further violence and death. "MDC will never rule this country; we want war," they yelled. "You supported MDC, so we want to beat you until you die."

The women claim that during the night the police visited the house where they were being held, saw their condition, and departed silently.

At 5 p.m. the following day, the women and children were released without explanation. Not knowing where to go, they walked to the home of the NCA chairperson for the area, who took them in and alerted Malvin to their whereabouts.

Both women told me that they were suffering injuries to bones and internal organs. Moleen had lost vision in her left eye and could not hear out of her left ear. They allowed me to photograph their scratched and swollen faces and pulled back the sheets of their beds to show me deep bruises and cuts across their hips and buttocks.

As I left the hospital I asked a nurse about the possibility of seeing other patients in the hospital. She blocked my access, saying that I had to consult with the head doctor in the city center first. But when I asked if there were many other victims of political violence in the facility, she leaned close and whispered, "The place is full of them."

In the past week, I have been in touch with Malvin almost daily, trying to keep tabs on his family's condition.

A few days after I spoke with her, Sekai was transferred to a new hospital. Malvin told me that state intelligence agents had been looking for her and she was no longer safe at her previous location. She remains in this hospital, which Malvin says is safe, despite the continued efforts of Zanu-PF supporters to find her.

Malvin's children remained with his cousin for a few days despite the cousin's protests that he had no way of providing for them. The children had only the clothes they were wearing the night of the attack and no blankets to warm them as they slept on the floor at night. Four days ago, the cousin notified Malvin that pro-Zanu-PF militias were mobilizing in his neighborhood and sent the children to Harare.

Malvin and his three children now live with more than 2,000 other displaced individuals in Harvest House, the MDC headquarters in downtown Harare. Like most of the opposition supporters seeking refuge in this office building, they remain indoors, fearing that ruling party thugs might be waiting for them on the streets. They are provided with one meal each day and no assurance that their stay will not be interrupted by a police raid or arrests.

Malvin has been warned that it is not safe to return to Epworth, where the militias are still hunting for him. Moreover, he has nothing to return to, with neighbors informing him that his land is now being used as a second base for militia operations in the area.

Today, Malvin has no savings and no income. Everything he possessed, including a few wads of Zimbabwe's worthless paper currency, was looted or burned by his attackers. His livelihood as a firewood vendor was destroyed as well, when his stock went up in flames with his house.

Malvin, like thousands of other Zimbabweans, is now wondering how to piece his life together in an environment of social turmoil and political uncertainty. Speaking to me in front of his wife and sister at the hospital, Malvin said, "Even if they are discharged, we have nowhere to go. Especially my sister. She has no husband. I am still standing, but what kind of husband am I? I cannot even provide food and clothing for my family. We have nothing."

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