Alexander Matthews
Alexander Matthews

Two-year-old child tortured in notorious Zim prison

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 beatings. Very little food has been provided. They are not allowed to see 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 suppress rightful dissent in Zimbabwe and force its populace into fearful, silent submission.

One of those imprisoned is a two-year-old toddler, Nigel Mutemagau, who was abducted three months ago along with his parents. Little Nigel has been beaten in front of his mother in an attempt to force her to admit to the charges levelled against her.

As Zimbabwean blogger Denford Magora says:

He cannot 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.

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, 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 two-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 also a two-year-old toddler, must immediately come to an end. It is imperative for South Africa — and the world — to act now to pressurise the Zimbabwean government into ending their vicious assault on basic human freedoms.

To remain silent is to condone what is happening in Zimbabwe. 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.