Evil unleashed

By the time the police arrived Barney Rogers’ parents had been tied up in a car and were about to be taken away to be murdered and ditched, writes Peter Roebuck.

Remember Barney Rogers? Only cricketing devotees will recall a young left-hander playing four “Test” matches and 15 one-day internationals for Zimbabwe a few years ago. Although bright and gritty, Rogers was not an exceptional batsman and can count himself fortunate to have appeared in a “Test” match. Of course the quotation marks are required as only the thugs running Zimbabwean cricket and their apologists imagine that those five day affairs were played to a sufficient standard to command the respect of history. But times were hard and most of the country’s adult players had long since fallen out with the bigwigs so Zimbabwe had to send a youth team into the field. Rogers did not take his chances, his career has faltered and little has been heard of him in the last 12 months.

And the reason for mentioning such an obscure cricketer? Rogers’ parents still live in their country of birth and recently they had some visitors. And not the kind popping around for sugared tea and crumpet.

Deep into the night a bunch of gangsters burst through the outer gates of the Rogers’ property, broke down the door of the house and threatened the occupants with brandished guns. Meanwhile these “war vets” were screaming the usual insults. In case anyone remains unaware of the nature of these brutish impostors, they are drug-crazed youths ruthlessly trained and brainwashed to carry out violent acts on behalf of their paymasters in Harare. Their evil has been unleashed in the aftermath of Zanu-Pfs heavy defeat in the elections. Unable to retain power legitimately, Mugabe has let loose the dogs of war.

Merely threatening a middle-aged couple was not enough for these heroes. Instead they fired seven bullets and set about assaulting them with rifle butts. Both adults suffered smashed cheek bones. Bruce was beaten black and blue and X-Rays revealed that two of his vertebrae had been broken. Mrs. Rogers incurred a broken eye socket and several fractured ribs. Apparently her face was so badly belted that she was barely recognisable. Both are now on retroviral drugs. Nice going, champs.

It might have been worse. Do not assume that these juvenile delinquents intended to spare the lives of their victims. Neighbours heard the commotion, spread the word and tried to save their friends. They managed to track down five reluctant policemen and lent them a truck so that they could go to the scene of the crime. By the time the police arrived Rogers’ parents had been tied up in a car and were about to be taken away to be murdered and ditched. It has become a common practise, except when Thabo Mbeki, any Angolan leader, most ICC officials or some other sycophant is around. This was not a happenstance crime, or rage fuelled by the paltry wages paid to labourers by third world elites of all complexions. This was political repression.

Although deeply traumatised, the Rogers’ are recovering in hospital. Alongside them can be found other beaten up supposed opposition supporters. It happens to black Zimbabweans all the time, but their stories remain untold because their names are not known.

Thankfully the United Nations paid the medical expenses and prevented any further damage being done. Of course the medical records have disappeared, whisked away by the security forces so that no official evidence existed. But photographs and recordings are not so easily removed, let alone witness statements sent around by email.

IPL has been fun. This is serious, and it is happening in our cricketing family.