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Promoting non-violent principles to achieve democracy
May 24, 2004

Violence and lawlessness continue unabated in Zimbabwe. Over the weekend a serious assault took place on a ranch manager and some of his game scouts in the Save Valley Conservancy. Anthony Bodington is the manager of Masapas Ranch within the Conservancy. On Friday 21st May he and six of his scouts were ambushed and attacked by an assorted group of war vets, poachers and illegal squatters. Their assailants were armed with knobkierries, assegais and machetes. They were abducted and held overnight in the bush where they were severely tortured. During the course of their ordeal they were subjected to gross verbal and physical abuse. The physical abuse included severe beatings with knobkerries which resulted in bruises, broken limbs and widespread lacerations. A game scout was stabbed and Bodington, for whom the assailants appear to have reserved the worst of their venom, was at one time held down and made to endure the motions as if they were going to cut off his arm.

The abductees were rescued from the gang of violent thugs early the following morning by a ZRP support unit. All were in poor shape and they required immediate medical attention. Bodington who was severely traumatized was admitted to hospital in Triangle. Full medical details of the injuries have been recorded and graphic photos reveal how savage and prolonged was the attack.

The police took down statements from those abused and have already made 33 arrests in connection with the incident. It is understood that one of those who led the attack, named Chirapa, was among those arrested. He is already on a charge of assault with intent to cause gross bodily harm in connection with an assault incident which occurred in 2002. On that occasion it is believed he and a brother of the same name led a group of more than 20 illegal squatters in a vicious attack on another senior member of the team managing Masapas Ranch. That case has inexplicably been postponed time and again.

The intervention of the police and arrest of some of the violent thugs responsible is a welcome development, though time will tell if they are to be prosecuted with the full force of the law. This aside, the continued presence of armed gangs of violent thugs who can, at will, abduct innocent citizens and carry out such murderous attacks upon them, dispels once and for all the notion that the level of violence and lawlessness is abating in Zimbabwe.

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