‘We are bleeding’: August 1 shooting horror lingers four years on
AUGUST 1 is a day to forget for Allison Charles.
Her brother Gavin Charles was shot in cold blood by marauding soldiers in full combat on this fateful day four years ago.
Gavin was shot at the back and killed by ferocious soldiers who were armed to the teeth, spraying bullets with reckless abandon.
The 42-year-old was shot at close range, with bullets ripping through his upper torso, living him gasping for breath.
He was shot twice from behind and doctors said this was evidence he was shot at close range judging by the firepower exhibited by the gunshot wounds.
Killed in cold blood by youthful combatants, under instruction to shoot to kill, Gavin’s name is etched in the darkest period in Zimbabwe after the 2017 military putsch that toppled Robert Mugabe.
Gavin, an unemployed father of a 13-year-old girl then, lived in Norton and had visited his sister for a few days.
On the fateful day, his family waited in vain for his return in the evening. They had prepared his favourite dish, grilled hake which he never got to enjoy.
His family, only got to know about his death through social media images of their brother laying in a pool of blood. Allison will never forget cringing at their sight.
“We heard it off the internet and saw his pictures on the social media. He was lying dead on the street. I am the one who was first to recognise him off my wife’s phone. We tried to get to town to check on him, but we couldn’t get through because the army had blocked off everywhere,” a relative said at that time.
They believe, Gavin was among bystanders who watched protesters run riot in central Harare. But fate was unkind to him and five others who died a brutal death in central Harare.
“He never fought with anyone; he never hurt anyone, and he was a humble man. I think he was an observer and not taking part in the demonstrations because he was not that kind of person to cause harm on anyone,” a relative said.
Four years after Gavin’s brutal death, his remains lay in an unmarked grave, his sister told TheReportLive.
“There has been no justice to date. It is now four years, and my brother is laying in an unmarked grave with no tombstone,” Allison said.
“We cannot even afford a tombstone.”
Dozens of families of victims of the 1 August shootings feel hard done four years after the army opened fire.
Gavin’s family is yet to receive compensation for his death, so are dozens of families still seeking recourse.
Four years on, they impatiently wait for the elusive reparations for their brother’s death.
They demand to know, who shot Gavin an answer that may never come.
“We want to know at least if the person who shot him has accounted,” Allison said.
Gavin’s daughter, now in form Two is doing well in school, according to Allison but she is bitter that the state has not offered help for her upkeep.
“Her mother is taking care of her. She is now in form two and doing very well in school. Nobody has contacted me to help or even talk about compensation,” she lamented.
Those killed on the day were Silvia Maphosa (53), Ishmael Kumire (41), Gavin Dean Charles (45), Jealous Chikandira (21), Brian Zhuwao (26) and Challenge Tauro (20).
Of the six victims, four were shot in the back and two in the front.
The August 1 shootings, widely condemned by the international community, have haunted the Mnangagwa administration.
Despite setting up the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry into the shootings, little has been done to implement their recommendations.
On 26 August 2018 Mnangagwa, referred to shootings as “regrettable and most unacceptable”
The Commission found that the deployment of the military was lawful but that the operational framework in terms of section 37 (2) of the Public Order and Security Act [Chapter 11:07] had not fully been complied with.
Motlanthe, made several recommendations that include compensation for losses and damages caused including, support and school fees for the children of the deceased: electoral reforms as well as accountability in respect of the alleged perpetrators.
“The Motlanthe Commission suggested that they pay out families, but nothing has been done. We should at least know who shot my brother,” Allison said.
While government remains mum on compensation, families will continue to seek justice for their loved ones. Lost but not forgotten!