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Rogue cops run amok in Harare

by Staff reporter
23 Sep 2018 at 14:20hrs | Views
Some rogue police officers went on the rampage in Harare at the weekend - firing tear gas indiscriminately at commuters omnibus ranks before savagely assaulting revellers at night clubs.

In the process, they re-ignited the ugly memories of the savage State brutality that was witnessed on a daily basis during the despotic rule of former president Robert Mugabe.

The weekend's brutal acts by law enforcement agents also fly in the face of the public pronouncements of both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and new police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga - who have preached messages of peace and a new dispensation in the country.

A police insider told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that there were "clearly some residual elements within the police force who are still employing old methods which taint the force's professional image".

"These members, many of whom joined the force over the past 20 years, do not know any other form of policing other than thuggery and to employ unnecessarily force - as we saw during (former police Commissioner-General Augustine) Chihuri and Mugabe's time.

"We sadly still have those residual elements in the force and they are finding it difficult to adapt to the new dispensation, and hence it is not surprising that there are these reports of continuing brutality," the insider said.

This comes as police have been having running battles with vendors who are resisting to leave Harare's central business district (CBD) following the outbreak of cholera disease which has so far killed at least 32 people and left thousands others needing treatment.

The reported brutal acts by police also came as Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of Peace.

Traumatised eyewitnesses told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that heavily-armed police had severely assaulted revellers at popular nightclubs in downtown Harare on Friday.

Commuter taxi drivers were also apparently not spared the random beatings.

In one incident, a woman is said to have been dragged from a car and beaten for not "dressing appropriately", one of the victims said.

Earlier, police had also been accused of firing teargas indiscriminately at commuter omnibus ranks, causing panic among travellers who were returning home from work.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said she was not aware of the incidents.

Police and their municipal counterparts have launched a combined blitz on vendors following the deadly outbreak of cholera in the capital city early this month.

Cholera - a treatable, poor man's disease which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and which is lethal if not attended to promptly - has struck Zimbabwe for the fourth time in 15 years.

Such is the speed with which the current epidemic is spreading that there is growing fear among ordinary Zimbabweans that the rising cases of cholera may approach the disastrous levels that were seen in the outbreak of 2008 which killed more than 4 000 people nationwide.

That outbreak - as is the case with the current one - was blamed on poor public health policies, as well as the country's broken water and sanitation infrastructure.

Government needs more than $60 million to contain the highly-infectious disease which is rapidly spreading across the country.

The crackdown on vendors has triggered an outpouring of anger among rights groups and the opposition, who have accused police of using heavy-handed methods.

"Government is simply using cholera as an excuse to victimise people in an attempt to achieve its ill-conceived goals.

"To make matters worse the apparatus deployed to enforce the Zanu-PF decision are confiscating clothes and electronic gadgets from vendors, merchandise that cannot in any scientific way transmit cholera. These are clear acts of theft," the MDC has said.

Source - dailynews