Wednesday 2 December 2020


POLICE yesterday said they were forced to walk on stage and stop proceedings during the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards (RoilBAAs) last Saturday after organisers failed to stick to agreed timelines for the event.

The statement by the police comes after false claims by some quarters that the police deliberately sought to frustrate the holding of the awards.

During the RoilBAAs held at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo, police details were seen going on stage apparently calling on organisers to immediately wrap up their event.

As internet sensation Sikhosana Band was saying out his acceptance speech for winning Outstanding Newcomer, four officers of the law, burst on stage and whispered something to United Refineries CEO Mr Busisa Moyo.

Mr Moyo was presenting the public votes categories when the police came on stage and after announcing the Song of the Year won by Ngoma Ingoma, the stage was cleared and in no time the police started herding people out of the venue telling them to go home.

Bulawayo police spokesperson Abednego Ncube said organisers had applied for the awards to be held between 3PM and 8PM.

“On the day in question, the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards organisers had applied to the police to start at 3PM ending at 8PM. And we gave them permission to do that. Instead they started at 6PM, which was not the problem of the police.

At 8PM they were not yet through. So, officers on duty led by a commissioned officer, an inspector, approached one of the organisers (Nkululeko Nkala) and agreed that he should round off his programme.

“The police allowed the event to continue up until 9PM. They engaged again the organisers who agreed amicably to round up and close. The event went on well according to the police and organisers,” said Insp Ncube.

In the aftermath of the event, some residents not privy to the agreed timelines, started attacking police accusing them of heavy handedness.

Bulawayo mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni issued a statement saying he was disappointed with the conduct of the police as it affected the marketing of the city.

“The police action affected the marketing of the city internationally. We are not happy with what the police did on the night of Saturday November 28 in the full glare of the international audience at the RoilBAA. We invest lots of time and resources to market Bulawayo as a cultural hub,” he said.

“I personally have been to China, America, Hong Kong, Kenya, Germany and Abu Dhabi to market the arts and cultural domination of this city. I had lots of colleagues viewing the event on Facebook Live. They were equally disappointed about the law enforcement agent’s conduct. No prior warning. That heavy handedness was not called for.”

However, Insp Ncube said everything was above board and the police were patient with the organisers and called on the mayor not to drive a wedge between them and Bulawayo residents.

“We appreciate the co-operation of the organisers who in turn is appreciative of the police. We are now worried about some comments from people who were not involved in the organisation of the RoilBAAs.

“They issue statements that are aimed to create hatred between the police and the people of Bulawayo, whom we are serving diligently. We wish to work with the people of Bulawayo and we are calling upon the general members of public to co-operate as we strive to make Bulawayo a law-abiding city, peace loving and crime free,” said Insp Ncube.

RoilBAA spokesperson Nkululeko Nkala, thanked police for their sterling work during the night.

“For the record, we cleared the event so that people can beat curfew time,” he said. “We ran late and we want to thank the police for their patience and understanding.” Chronicle


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