Home » Human Rights » Killarney Squatters Lament ZRP Harassment

RESIDENTS of Killarney Squatter Camp on the outskirts of Bulawayo have, for a long time, struggled to shake off the stigma that has seen them receive constant harassment from the police and being shunned by the rest of society.

The 117 shack dwellers, who have resigned their fate to God, have told of daily doses of harassment by police.

“We are harassed by police on a daily basis. If there is a robbery in the surrounding suburbs their first port of call is here at the squatter camp because there is a belief that the camp harbours criminals,” said Nomthandazo Nyoni, a mother of four.

Nyoni said the cops embark on early morning raids and often mistreat the dwellers, most of whom were left homeless after the government embarked on Operation Murambatsvina, nearly a decade ago.

“They (police) come here in the early morning hours and order all of us to come out our shacks. The men, who are usually their main suspects, are made to roll on the ground and afterwards they are arrested and taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station.

“There are some days when they raid the whole camp and arrest everyone including children. When we get to the police station they take our finger prints and detain us for the whole night,” she said.

The shack dwellers who have formed a committee to oversee the affairs of the small community have largely kept to themselves but due to high levels of poverty in the camp they are forced to venture out in search of food.

“Society views us as a bunch of thieves and malcontents and that has forced us to maintain a low profile. The moment you introduce yourself as coming from Killarney squatter camp, you are treated like a thug,” said Marvellous Dube.

Dube said when they go looking for part-time employment they often give false information to their prospective employers.

“We have learnt to give our prospective employers false information so that we get part-time jobs. If you mention that you are from the squatter camp you don’t get the job.

“We often travel as far as Hillside or Matsheumhlophe suburbs to look for employment as gardeners, security guards or house maids. Those are the jobs that are easier to get,” he said.

The squatters appealed to non-governmental organisations to assist them with food parcels as the crops they planted this farming season have wilted due to lack of adequate rains.

“We appeal for assistance with food parcels since our crops have failed. We do not even have any idea where our next meal will come from,” appealed Shelly Mlauzi.

At its peak, the camp had over 200 dwellers before the Bulawayo City Council relocated 197 families to Mazwi village on the outskirts of city.

Source : New Zimbabwe