Friday, 19 August 2016


Police yesterday battered and seriously injured outspoken National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) leader, Sten Zvorwadza — who had gone to Harare Central Police Station to hand over a peace offering to law enforcement agents.

Zvorwadza’s brutal assault, which resulted in him being admitted at the Avenues Clinic in the capital, also came after riot police savagely crushed a Tajamuka/Sesjikile march on Wednesday.

The ruthless crackdown on all dissenting voices by President Robert Mugabe’s panicking government triggered an outpouring of anger across the country yesterday, with rights groups and pro-democracy groups saying there was now an urgent need for the intervention of the regional Sadc bloc in the deepening Zimbabwe crisis.

Zimbabweans who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said the barbaric reaction to dissent by the State evoked memories of the bloody March 2007 assaults in which heavily-armed police crushed a prayer meeting in Highfield which resulted in the death of a cobbler and MDC supporter, Gift Tandare.

On that day, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other prominent politicians that included Lovemore Madhuku, Grace Kwinjeh and Tendai Biti were pummelled mercilessly by police, leading to the intervention of Sadc.

Among those who are outraged by the rising police brutality are Higher and Tertiary Education minister, Jonathan Moyo.

“I wholly condemn disproportionate use of force without any reservation. Use of lawful force must be proportionate! New situations often pose challenges to law enforcement & rogue elements often exploit such situations anywhere!” Moyo wrote on the micro-blogging site, Twitter.

Responding to questions from his followers on who should stop the police violence Moyo said: “By all. There’s no shortage of rogue elements who spoil things for everyone often by making a bad situation worse! Unlawful violence is unacceptable & must stop in the national interest. There can be no debate about that!

“Law enforcement is essential, more so in these times of provocative antics but it must be lawful. Remember 2007! Pictures of unlawful violence can change everything for the worst as did this 11 March 2007 Tsvangirai picture!”

He then proceeded to publish the gory picture of Tsvangirai showing his sutured head after being battered in Highfield on that day, when police crushed the prayer meeting.
Wednesday’s brutal crackdown against vendors and pro-democracy groups, that included radical pressure group Tajamuka/Sesjikile, came hard on the heels of similar recent ruthless action against war veterans and unemployed graduates — and as calls for Mugabe and Zanu PF to resign from power are mounting.

But police spokesperson Charity Charamba defended the police action saying that some law enforcement agents had been injured in that Wednesday anarchy, a development which she blamed on “unruly elements”.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch senior researcher for southern Africa, Dewa Mavhinga, urged human rights defenders to accurately document the abuses and lodge complaints with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.

“Even if there is no justice now, an accurate record of abuses and complaints is essential for justice to be achieved under future administrations. Current protests have so far raised Zimbabwe issues for Sadc attention, with the exception that Sadc wants Zimbabwe to reverse SI 64 that bans imports because the policy is viewed as harmful to regional trade.
“More needs to be done to raise the tempo to levels that triggered Sadc’s response in March 2007,” Mavhinga told the Daily News.

Peace building group, Heal Zimbabwe, said it was disturbing that police had now made it their business to harm and violate people’s rights in violation of the Constitution.
“Heal Zimbabwe notes that while freedom to demonstrate and petition is well provided for under Section 59 of the Constitution, the disregard for the Constitution by the police is not only despicable but archaic especially in today’s world where rule of law must take precedence.

“The police are not only violating the Constitution but also their own Police Client Service Charter. The actions by the police are deplorable to say the least and also contradict their mission.

“This aims to maintain law and order, protect and secure the lives and property of the people and to institute dynamic policing practices that engender effective prevention, investigation and detection of crime,” it said.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News that human rights defenders should also use smart methods of identifying rogue police officers so that they could be individually sued for damages by anyone whose rights would have been abused.

“We have definitely entered the season of State-sponsored violence and terrorism. As Election 2018 approaches, the Zanu PF regime is getting increasingly intolerant and paranoid.

“The chances of police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri changing his attitude towards peaceful demonstrators are close to zero. Chihuri invariably talks and acts like an active Zanu PF cadre.

“He has never made a secret of the fact that he is a die-hard Zanu PF supporter. When the collapsing Zanu PF regime is threatened by the wave of peaceful demonstrations, Chihuri also perceives that his position as the police boss is being threatened,” Gutu said.

On his part, Biti also said individual police officers beating up people should be prosecuted.
“There are a number of lawyers who are ready to assist victims of police brutality and what we are trying to do is to take action against them in their individual capacity. The law allows that now. We cannot be having police beating people willy-nilly because they have power.
“The worst human rights abuses are violence where people are beaten, tortured and murdered. It’s time we fight back before being taken back to 2008 and to the Gukurahundi era.  Zanu PF is a regime that does not understand the power of dialogue and believes in using force to silence people,” the PDP leader told the Daily News.

Wednesday’s police violence against protesters also became a subject of heated debate in Parliament where speaker Jacob Mudenda blocked a motion to have a commission of inquiry into growing police brutality.

This happened after Kuwadzana East MP and MDC vice president, Nelson Chamisa, had raised the issue. But Mudenda demanded to be furnished with footage of police brutality and other material which he said Parliament needed to consider before he could allow the motion. daily news


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