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Brutal attack on trade unionists: Remembering September 13, 2006
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
September 13, 2007

On 13 September 2006, thousands of workers around the country took part in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) demonstration against poverty afflicting 80% of Zimbabweans. They were demanding wages that were linked to the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) and Government's commitment to fight inflation. They also wanted to benefit from the HIV and AIDS fund through free distribution of anti-retroviral drugs. They also demanded a stop in the implementation of the compulsory National Health Insurance Scheme that was to be administered by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).

The result of the action shocked the world. With tacit approval from State, a number of trade unionists were battered and tortured in the streets and police cells. President Robert Mugabe approved the beatings. He told those that were gathered at the Zimbabwe Mission in Cairo that:

"If you want an excuse for being killed, be my guest go into the streets and demonstrate. The police were right in dealing sternly with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leaders during their demonstration . . . because the trade unionists want to become a law unto themselves. We cannot have a situation where people decide to sit in places not allowed and when the police remove them, they say no. We can't have that, that is a revolt to the system. Vamwe vaakuchema kuti tarohwa, ehe unodashurwa. When the police say move, move. If you don't move, you invite the police to use force".

The injuries were particularly serious for those who were detained at Matapi Police Station. Below are the summaries of injuries, confirmed by doctors, of those detained at Matapi:

Name Fractures Soft Tissue Injuries
Ngobizithi Khumalo Sustained a fracture on the left hand, 5th finger. Extensive bruising on the back due to blunt object.
George Nkiwane No Fractures Soft Tissue haematomata. Multiple linear marks on thighs and buttocks.
Wellington Chibebe Fractured Radiu, Ulnar and Phalanx due to blunt object Lacerations on the head, as well as bruises all over the body a blunt object.
Lucia Matibenga No Fractures Extensive bruising on the back, buttocks, legs, thighs and chest wall.
Toendepi Shonhe Fractured finger on the left hand and below the knee Extensive bruises on both sides of the body, left fore arm.
Tererai Todini Fractured finger on the right hand Extensive bruising on the back and fore arm due to blunt object.
Lovemore Matombo Linear fracture on right small finger. Extensive bruising on the back, buttocks, upper and lower limps.
Tonerai Nyahunzvi No fractures Soft tissue bruising
Rwatipedza Chigwagwa Fractured Radius and Ulna Multiple erythematous lesions on the back, buttocks and upper limp.
Steven Mutera No information available as of yet  
Tichaona Basket No fractures Multiple bruises and swelling on the back and right wrist.
James Gumbi No fractures buttocks and erythematous Septic traumatic wounds of the lesions of the back and thighs.
Ian Makone No fractures Multiple erythematous lesions on face, back buttock, legs. Abrasion on left leg.
Dennis Chiwara Fractured both fibula and crushed injury of the left foot. Extensive bruising of thighs, back and buttocks. Tenderness of the right elbow joint and left ankle.
Moses Ngondo Fracture of left ulna and ankle. Right shoulder and leg has swelling and tenderness.

*Extracted from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Access to Justice Series: In Defense of the Right to Organise: Trade Unions as Human Rights Defenders

Besides the above, a number of citizens were beaten up and some suffered severe injuries. Today we remember the gallant trade unionists who are at the forefront of defending the right of workers under immense state brutality. Some of the injured have become permanently disabled.

Visit the ZCTU fact sheet

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