- Two months after Operation Tokomeza was suspended, a parliamentary select committee formed to probe the allegations tabled its report in parliament yesterday--and the story it tells is scary.
Dodoma. Torture and other human rights abuses were committed during Operation Tokomeza, according to the parliamentary select committee formed to look into the matter. Initially launched to weed out poaching and crack down on the illegal trade in ivory, the operation was reportedly dogged by reports of killings and abuse of innocent people and their livestock.
Two months after Operation Tokomeza was suspended, a parliamentary select committee formed to probe the allegations tabled its report in parliament yesterday--and the story it tells is scary.
The operations team involved 2,371 officers from different institutions. They included 885 soldiers from the Tanzania Peoples Defence Forces (TPDF), 480 police officers, 440 officers from the anti-poaching unit and 383 military officers from Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa).
There were 99 officers from Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) 51 military officers from Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, 23 public prosecutors and 100 magistrates. The operation was expected to take place in four phases.
Presenting the probe report, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Lands, Natural Resources and Environment, Mr James Lembeli, said his team established that 19 people were killed during the operation, 13 of them ordinary wananchi and six members of execution team. The officers tortured and killed wananchi in various areas, he added.
It also appears that some ministers were not involved effectively in the campaign. According to Mr Lembeli, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism gave orders without involving Mr Khamis Kagasheki, the minister. TPDF was also giving orders and controlling operations and did not involve other members of the team. Mr Lembeli also accused police officers and staff from Tanapa, TFS and NCAA of taking bribes and protecting poachers and some rich people during the operation. Some politicians and rich pastoralists also reportedly sabotaged the operation. And wananchi were tortured and humiliated before their children and in-laws. “Some wananchi showed us how they were tortured,” he added. “They showed scars on their bodies...we even have photographic evidence and written testimonies.”
Mr Lembeli said his committee discovered that members of the regional and district defence and security committees were not involved.