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'Aug 1 victims feared seeking help from State hospitals'

by Staff reporter
18 Nov 2018 at 11:45hrs | Views
John Muza* left home on August 1 to purchase a new laptop in Harare's CBD after saving for more than six months.

It was a poignant moment for him as a disc jockey (DJ) at a night club.

Muza would finally get his long-cherished laptop, an important piece of gear in the modern DJ's arsenal.

The DJ had been diligently saving to replace his old antique computer, after several sleepless nights saving cash to enable him to purchase the key to greater gigs and better performances that would increase his income.

He did not know that he would return home with a new laptop, but nursing serious gunshot wounds. He had never heard the sound of a live gunshot before and his generation had never known war, so this was a jolting moment for him.

Muza is one of the victims of the August 1 post-election shootings that erupted after the army flooded the streets of the capital Harare before opening fire on demonstrators with guns, water cannons and tear gas.

Fearing being caught up in the post-election related intimidation and harassment against opponents of the ruling Zanu-PF party unfurled after the August 1 violence, Muza nursed gunshot wounds for 10 days, at home, fearing to present himself to the emergency room. State hospitals are required to inform police when a client suffering from a gunshot wound comes into the ER.

Muza was among the hundreds of civilians, activists and organisers who went into hiding in Harare in the aftermath of the shootings, with some forced to flee their homes by members of the ruling party.

With his condition deteriorating, Muza was forced to present himself at a private hospital's wound care clinic, joining the growing number of patients needing post-operative care for their gunshot wounds.

His harrowing tale was captured by the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) in a report launched on November 16, 2018 that details heart-breaking stories of several other innocent victims of the August 1 violence.

Between August 1 and September 5, ZADHR attended to 72 cases of politically-motivated violence, involving 102 victims, and Muza was one of them.

The rights doctors said events of August 1 had altered both Muza's mental and physical wellbeing.

"He narrated that he had just purchased a new laptop in town, when the shop owner accommodated a group of people who had come running for cover. The shop owner dvised them to remain in doors until it was relatively calm," the report says.

"A few minutes later, the shop owner started worrying about the possibility of having his shop burnt down for accommodating people who were being chased by the army.

"He then advised everyone in the shop to get out and look for another place to hide. He remembers that one of the persons in that shop had told him that he had left his kombi (commuter omnibus) outside the shop and they would use it for cover and transport," ZADHR narrated.

As Muza and the group in the shop exited, the kombi driver was shot as he ran towards his vehicle. He was shot in the chest and fell powerlessly. Muza then decided to check on him amid a hail fire of bullets.

"When he was trying to help him, he felt a piercing sting on his right thigh and he dropped the kombi driver and ran away," ZADHR said in its report.

Muza said he was in excruciating pain as he galloped away to safety. He rushed home where he nursed his wound for days before seeking medical attention.

ZADHR treasurer Norman Matara, speaking at the launch of the Post-Election Violence Report titled ‘A New Era or Error', explained that Muza presented "a necrotic (death of cells or tissues from severe injury) wound that needed debridement (the removal of damaged tissue or foreign objects from a wound) about 10 days after the incident."

"The patient brought a sceptic wound about 10 days later because he was afraid to seek medical attention from State hospitals because of what he heard was happening," Matara said.

Muza also told the doctors that he was not aware of the fate of the kombi driver.

ZADHR report revealed that the doctors recorded 22 cases of beating and assault, 11 cases of gunshot wounds, followed by five victims with stampede injuries.

At least 29 people were either intimidated or displaced, three suffered from burns; one other victim was raped while another was stoned by protestors.

Matara said that of the patients attended to, 31 were assaulted by soldiers, two assaults where from protestors while 20 assaults were from Zanu-PF, and eight assaults came from village heads who also contributed to the displacement of villagers.

Victims of post-election violence seen by the rights doctors were reported to have exhibited signs and symptoms consistent with physical and emotional trauma. Muza has since recovered from the ordeal and his wound has successfully healed after debridement and antibiotic therapy, the doctors said.

*John Muza is not victim's real name, with his moniker having been redacted because of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Source - dailynews