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.