On the subject of guns, but across the border in Zimbabwe, we're pleased to report that the gun import problem we've been writing about seems to have eased. Not only are arriving hunters being more careful with their paperwork, but government officials seem to be lightening up. We have had several reports that the tension level is back to normal. What still bothers us here at The Hunting Report and we think should bother every American is the treatment those American missionaries have received in Zimbabwe. The three Americans, you may recall, were missionaries in Congo, who tried to return home via Zimbabwe with some personal firearms when they were driven out of Congo by fighting. It is their arrest that appears to have led to greater scrutiny of arriving hunters. At any rate, when the missionaries' guns were discovered, they were thrown into a maximum-security prison in Harare and accused of being mercenaries and terrorists.
Independent observers have attested they were brutally tortured by having their feet beaten and by having electricity applied to their genitals - behavior that is outlawed even in wartime by international agreement. Months later, after treating the Americans this way, the government of Zimbabwe has dropped all charges against them relating to terrorism. The charges now reflect what appears to have really taken place - namely, one of the trio had a private gun collection that he was trying to smuggle home. It was a stupid, unlawful thing to do and certainly they deserve some form of punishment. But did it warrant the kind of treatment they received? We don't think so and, frankly, it colors our perception of the country. That's particularly true in light of the fact that President Mugabe has personally jumped into the case and overturned a recent court decision releasing the missionaries from solitary confinement. Clearly, there is hostile intent here. And, sadly, this case is far from over. As this issue goes to press, the Americans' trial is set to resume in a matter of weeks. For a single stupid, unlawful act (e.g., for being unable to part with a gun collection),........(continued)