How we fled our home after protesting government corruption and crumbled health system in Zimbabwe

Godess Bvukutwa
Posted August 29, 2020 from Zimbabwe
How a Zimbabwean family fled their home after protesting government corruption and crumbled health system
Photos of my husband and me marching on July 31. Photos Courtesy of BuStop TV
I carried a rolled up green towel on my baby to represent the 7 dead babies (1/2)

I never thought I would ever jump over the wall of our house fleeing from a truck packed with riot police and two cars with police officers in civilian clothes parked outside our gate.

In a narration titled, “How Zimbabwean Hospitals Have Turned Into Human Abattoirs” a doctor leaked photos from Parirenyatwa Hospital, of seven babies who had died in one night. 

because of the rapture of the mothers’ uteruses who did not get surgery soon enough. After reading that, I knew I was going to participate in the July 31 protests which the government had called illegal.

My major fear was sexual assault more than arrest because of government’s use of sexual assault and rape to subjugate women who participated in political activism and protests, something I had blogged about. My husband decided to join me on the last minute and holding our placards, we marched for about two hours in our neighbourhood. As we rounded up the march, we noticed a woman driving a charcoal grey Discovery car following and furtively taking photos of us. We saw her three times and the fourth time was when we got inside our gate and she beeped her car weirdly and when we turned to look, she drove off.

Approximately fifteen minutes after getting home, two cars and a lorry full of riot police arrived at our house. My husband had gone out soon after to talk to a business acquaintance close by. He called me as he was walking back, and told me that there was riot police at our gate. Panicking, I immediately wrote on Facebook that there was police at our gate, I didn’t want something to happen to us without the world knowing. I had to jump into our neighbour’s yard and I met with my husband who was now outside our neighbor’s house.  We explained to our neighbour what was going on. Our gardener told us on the phone that the cars were still by our gate and we quickly got our three kids, my sister and our domestic helper to jump over the wall too. My husband a lawyer, had sent an SOS to some lawyers groups and soon some human rights lawyers were on their way to our house. Our neighbor loaned us his car and we drove to our church where we met with a friend who took the kids, my sister and our helper. She had first tried to come to our neighbour’s house only to see police officers patrolling in that road suspiciously. Another friend picked us up and we slept at their house upon the advice of the lawyers who had talked to the police. The police were alleging that according to their video there were many people who had walked inside the gate holding placards and that they would come back with a search and seizure warrant. The following morning we arranged for my sister to walk back to our home and get some clothes for our children, baby food and diapers. What she later told us sent chills of fear in every ounce of our bodies. There were cars at our gate, and a truck. A number of men in blue dustcoats were making a hullabaloo shouting for someone to open the gate. They were walking to our neighbours’ gates questioning them and harassing every passerby. They even questioned my sister and she denied knowing anything and walked on. There was no way we were going back home that day. We moved on to other friends’ houses in case they were tracking our phones, the plan was to wait until Monday then we hand over ourselves to the police. Our gardener kept telling us that cars sometimes unmarked were taking turns to camp at our house. His own family had jumped over the wall and gone elsewhere in fear. Our knowledgeable connections said these cars belonged either to the Military Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Organisation or a so called ‘third force’ and that they had been monitoring my Facebook activity for some time having written many posts criticizing the government. On Monday, my husband handed himself to the police with some lawyers. Their advice was that I don’t go unless they requested for me. They met with the Officer in Charge of the Law and Order who said he was the one who had led the ‘operation’ to our house. He said they aborted the efforts to get a search and seizure warrant. It looked like they had done their investigations and seen that we were not persons of interest and they let him go. However, unidentified cars continued to camp at our gate until my husband had to make a police report, the day after we got home.

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 10

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Nini Mappo
Aug 30
Aug 30

Hello Goddess,
I love your creativity of a towel baby in how you protested the lack of maternal health care in your country. It breaks my heart how broken health care is in most African countries.

Thank you for risking your safety to be the voice for all the mothers crying for their babies, all the mothers who experienced terrible birth traumas because of a healthcare system awash with corruption, all the future mothers who will hopefully deliver their babies in safety.

You are their hero, even if they will never know you.

Good on you and take care.

Godess Bvukutwa
Sep 05
Sep 05

Thank you very much Nini! It's the least we could do. We are expected to keep quiet as the masses suffer

Tamarack Verrall
Aug 30
Aug 30

Dear Godess,
My dear sister, Your country is being led by a tyrant who is in breach of the Human Rights Code of the UN.
"Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Many countries are in breach.
How horrific, what has happened from a simple call to take better care in hospitals, so that babies don't die. And painful to be betrayed by a woman.
I wonder if we can try to find support for you and your husband by sharing your news carefully to organizations that might have the power to provide some protection, or whether that might cause more danger.
In sisterhood,
Tam

Godess Bvukutwa
Sep 05
Sep 05

Thank you Tam. They have ceased to care or to pretend to care. The rampant human rights violations continue

Hello, Goddess,

Welcome back to World Pulse! It's nice to read from your again, but I'm disheartened at the same time because of what took place on this post. You're such a brave and caring woman to stand up against poor health care system. What a horrible experience you and your husband went through for simply speaking up for the seven babies who could have lived if there was an efficient and reliable health care.

I'm relieved that you have friends and family who you can count on in times of hiding. Please stay safe, dear. Your children need you safe and with them. It could be a traumatic experience for them, too.

Please update us, dear sister.

Godess Bvukutwa
Sep 05
Sep 05

Thank you Karen. Yes it's been long. I needed to find a way of letting the world know of what's happening. We enjoy certain privileges that ensured our safety. So many people do not and this is the frightening fact.

You're welcome, dear sister. Yes, it's important to speak out. That's true. Stay brave, dear. :)

Beth Lacey
Aug 31
Aug 31

Oh my! Please stay safe.

Godess Bvukutwa
Sep 05
Sep 05

Thank you Beth!

Chi8629
Sep 19
Sep 19

Thank you for sharing Sister.