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Four Die at Harare-Area Holding Camp Amidst Relocations

Four people among the displaced at the Porta Farm holding camp 70 kilometers from Harare died Wednesday and Thursday, two in the course of government operations to relocate those made homeless by its campaign to demolish unauthorized structures, civil society sources told Studio 7.

A representative of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said one woman in failing health died Thursday morning, and that the immediate cause of death was believed to have been exposure to the cold. The legal group was investigating three other deaths. A five-year-old child was reported to have been run over and killed by a by a police truck late Wednesday, and a two-year old child was said to have been crushed to death during the demolition of a home on Porta Farm.

Thursday afternoon a pregnant woman died after falling off a moving police truck, the human rights legal group. The national police spokesman in Harare, Wayne Wayne Bvudzijena said he could not comment on the reports.

For more information on these reported fatalities, reporter Carole Gombakomba spoke with Rangu Nyamurundira of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who was at Porta Farm late Thursday investigating the deaths.

United Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, dispatched by the organization’s secretary general to assess the situation in Zimbabwe six weeks after Harare launched its controveral urban clean-up program, was meeting representatives of civic organizations Thursday when word arrived of the deaths at Porta Farm.

Alois Chaumba, national director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace told Carole Gombakomba how Mrs. Tibaijuka received the news. The envoy then traveled to Porta Farm to investigate the death reports and look into conditions at what has become a collection, holding and transit center.