ARMED police details raided the Killarney squatter camp in Bulawayo at midday on Thursday and arrested more than 20 men.
The cops, who were dressed in plain clothes, confiscated property including television sets, radios, DVDs and speakers, among others, that they suspected to be stolen property.
Sihle Jubane, a squatter and whose husband was among the arrested men, said the police angrily ordered them to open their doors and demanded to see their identity particulars.
“When the police came, they were carrying guns and that terrified us as we did not know what they wanted. In harsh voices, they ordered us to open the doors and produce our identity particulars and asked why we were staying in the bush,”Jubane said.
“They started searching my house and when they found a DVD, they asked for receipts and because I did not have them they took it away together with my husband,” she said.
Another resident at the squatter camp Catherine Ndlovu’s husband was also arrested and she said the police searched her house and accused her of selling mbanje, and forced her to “surrender” the illicit drug.
“When they entered my house, they began searching and took away my television set and in the process said they had been told that I sell mbanje. They ordered me to surrender the mbanje and I explained to them that I did not even know how it looks like, but they were persistent as they were convinced I had it,” Ndlovu said.
Angeline Ndlovu said they tried asking the police why their husbands and sons were being arrested, but got no response.
“When the police were handcuffing the men, we asked why they were arresting them and they kept quiet and we still do not know why they were arrested even up to now,” she said.
It is believed the men were taken to Donnington Police Station after being transferred from Hillside Police Station on Saturday morning and their wives were denied access to them although they had brought anti—retroviral tablets some are taking.
“Most of the arrested men are taking anti—retroviral tablets and when we wanted to give them their medication, the police refused. As I speak, my husband has missed two of his courses and he has already developed a rash on his face which is an effect of skipping the drug,” Buhle Khumalo said.
Melody Ngwenya said they were frustrated because the police gave no reason for raiding their camp.
“We are really disturbed by the police’s ruthless actions because they really treated us like nothing yet we are normal human beings who are just poverty stricken. We actually do not want to be squatters, but we have no option,” said Ngwenya.
Mavis Sibindi said although there were criminals in their midst, it did not mean that every man in the camp is a lawbreaker.
Sanelisiwe Mguni said the society must appreciate that some people were struggling to make ends meet, but still deserved to be treated with dignity.
“We wish society at large could accept and appreciate some of us who are struggling to make ends meet and find ourselves living in terrible conditions and treat us like human beings,” she said.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo said he had not yet received information about the arrests.
“I have not received that information as yet, but I will make inquiries on the issue at hand,” Moyo said.
Two years ago, police raided the Killarney squatter camp and rounded up more than 30 people at the illegal settlement following the discovery of a human skeleton in the area.