MDC-T official beaten by soldiers for wearing Obama t-shirt
By Tichaona Sibanda
A 32-year-old popular MDC-T official in Rusape, Manicaland province, is now
recovering at home after he was badly beaten by soldiers for wearing a
Barack Obama t-shirt.
Teddy Chipere, the MDC-T provincial secretary for Mines and Natural
Resources, was at his carpentry workshop in Vhengere on Thursday when a
soldier drove up in an army truck with the intention of buying furniture.
‘He enquired about the prices and I told him. He then noticed the Obama
t-shirt and asked why I was wearing it instead of Robert Mugabe’s.
‘I respectfully and in an honest manner told him I do not support Mugabe or
ZANU PF and I was under no obligation to wear a t-shirt bearing his face.
The soldier angrily shot off a few expletives, jumped into his truck and
drove off and I thought that was the end of the story,’ Chipere said.
But less than 15 minutes later, at around 11am, the army truck returned with
a group of 12 armed soldiers from the Rusape based 3.2 infantry battalion.
This battalion is under the command of Brigadier-General Douglas
Nyikayaramba, who famously declared a few months ago that Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai would not rule Zimbabwe.
Without asking questions the soldiers, in full view of Chipere’s colleagues,
bundled him into their truck and drove off.
‘I was taken to a farm called TikiTiki just outside Rusape. There at a
secluded place, I was pinned to the ground and lectured about the dangers of
supporting the MDC-T. Meanwhile, other soldiers were tearing off branches
from nearby trees.’
Whilst pinned down, face to the ground, the soldiers severely beat him,
leaving his buttocks with deep bruises. They also kicked and punched him
repeatedly over a period of 30 minutes.
During the beating, one of the soldiers grabbed his buttocks while
brandishing a long tree branch and threatened to sodomize him while others
subjected him to a mock execution.
Chipere said one soldier, whom he identified as Zimunya, pleaded with his
colleagues not to ‘hurt him’ because there were witnesses to his abduction.
‘If it wasn’t for that, these soldiers were out to hurt me badly. It was
also at this point that they drove me back to Rusape and left me at my
workshop,’ Chipere said, adding that the brutal attack was politically
motivated and brought on by the Obama t-shirt. But he says the beating will
not deter him.
‘We knew the dangers of supporting the MDC the day we joined the party. It
is a challenge but it is my belief the impunity will one day come to an end.’
Last year Chipere was hauled before the courts in Rusape on charges of
undermining and insulting Mugabe. The state alleged that Chipere likened
Mugabe to a dead person during an address to party supporters at Shiriimwe
Business Centre in Nyamaropa, Nyanga. The state case collapsed after they
failed to prove the accusations against him.
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