HARARE, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government said it will investigate allegations of misconduct by security forces following reports that some civilians were abused and raped in the aftermath of recent protests that left several people dead, goods looted and property destroyed.
Two cabinet ministers issued separate statements to state media Friday saying that they took the allegations of rape, sexual abuse and assault of civilians by the security forces seriously.
Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema told local newspaper the Herald that police had received one report of alleged abuse so far and more would be investigated.
"The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage wishes to acknowledge reports of alleged rape, sexual abuse and assaults that have been perpetrated by security forces during the recent operation. So far, the police have received one such report from St Mary's, Chitungwiza, and the case is already under investigation," he said.
Video footage by an international media organization showed footage of bruised women who alleged they had been raped by members of the security forces.
"We take these rape allegations very seriously and investigations will be instituted immediately once complainants file reports with the police," Mathema said.
Mathema said he had already communicated with Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga over the matter, and urged all citizens to report any case of misconduct.
Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi also said that the alleged cases would be thoroughly investigated.
"Those with complaints should report them to the police, and they will be treated impartially and with sensitivity," he said, adding that the media should be responsible for reporting such issues.
"We call upon our media not to whip up emotions, but help bring people together as we hold hands one to another rebuilding our country," Ziyambi said.
Official reports put the number of people who died during the violent demonstrations at eight, although independent media said that the number is higher.
The demonstrations were triggered by fuel price increases announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. However, the government alleges the demonstrations had been pre-planned by the opposition and civil organizations. Enditem