Claims of rape against soldiers amid Zimbabwe unrest

  • Video report by ITV News Africa Correspondent John Ray

To the long list of evils inflicted on the people of Zimbabwe, add the crime of rape.

"The soldiers came to my door. Then, they kicked the door and the door opened," one female victim told ITV News.

"They said 'this is time to sleep', then my kids started crying."

This victim claimed that soldiers kicked down her door before attacking her.

ITV News has met 11 women who all say they were sexually assaulted and that their attackers were members of the country's army.

Over the past week, Zimbabwe's government has launched a clampdown on dissenters, unhappy with the country's economic crisis

Twelve people have been killed, and others dragged from their homes and beaten, according to human rights groups.

"They hit me. I was scared," one rape victim said.

"Then I took off my clothes and they had sex, unprotected sex, with me - two of them."

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested in Zimbabwe over the past week.

The women wanted to speak out for the world to hear of their ordeals.

"He took off his trousers and I said 'please, don't do this to me,'" another victim said.

"The other one hit me with a baton and I said 'please, don't do this', and he said no.

"So I had no choice."

With the president's return the army is taking a lower profile, but over the past week it's been accused of torture, of beating suspects to quash dissent.

The government said that it would not leave wrongdoing unpunished.

The charge of rape is new and ITV News took it to the Zimbabwean government.

Asked if the accusations would be investigated, a government spokesperson said that "no stone would be left unturned" when it came to wrongdoing.

The government, however, seems far keener to prosecute civilians accused of taking part in then demonstrations.

There are hundreds behind bars and relatives are queuing to catch a glimpse of them in crowded courts.

Few expect proper hearings.