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Police clash with #ZimbabweanLivesMatter protesters at embassy in Pretoria

The Not in My Name Movement had organised the picket out the Zimbabwe High Commission to protest the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Protesters outside the Zimbabwean High Commission in Pretoria have come out in support of Zimbabwean following reports of human  right violations. Picture: Abigail Xavier/EWN

PRETORIA – The #ZimbabweanLivesMatter picket in Pretoria has been dispersed by police even though organisers say they had permission to demonstrate.

The Not in My Name Movement had organised the picket out the Zimbabwe High Commission to protest the human rights abuses in that country.

But police threw stun grenades and shot protestors with rubber bullets as Themba Masango the movement’s secretary general explains.

“We are very disappointed and heartbroken that our own police treat us with such violence and disdain. Especially after they had given us permission. Today when we arrive here they are telling us we have to disperse. They allowed us a few minutes to address the people and after that they started shooting at us, unprovoked.”

Earlier this week Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed to "flush out" critics who he described as "dark forces" and "terrorists" after the authorities thwarted anti-government protests.

On Friday police were seen pushing and shoving the protesters from the front of the Zimbabwean embassy building, situated in a leafy Pretoria suburb not far from the Union Buildings, the seat of South Africa's government.

Drapped in their county's national flag, protesters waved placards, some reading "Mnangagwa: You are going to The Hague! Murderer! Thief!"

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said he had appointed two special envoys to go to Harare "following recent reports of difficulties that the Republic of Zimbabwe is experiencing".

Mnangagwa took over from longtime ruler Robert Mugabe after a coup in November 2017 and many Zimbabweans complain that the country's situation has only gotten worse since.

The Zimbabwean government has dismissed allegations of rights abuses and a crisis in the country as "false".

"There is no crisis or implosion in Zimbabwe. Neither has there been any abductions or 'war' on citizens," government spokesman Nick Mangwana said in a statement.

Additional reporting by AFP