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Top cop testifies in Mahere's dead child case

by Staff reporter
02 Mar 2023 at 00:44hrs | Views
Social media posts by CCC spokesperson Fadzai Mahere and other people peddling lies that a police officer had beaten a child to death with a baton in Harare in 2021 raised concern among senior Government officials and caused chaos among the public, a court heard yesterday.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, appearing as a defence witness called by Mahere, told the court that posts by Mahere and other people also raised concerns within the police, which then prompted them to institute investigations and later to a police statement denying the false information.

Asst Comm Nyathi was testifying in the trial of Mahere who is charged with communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the State following her tweet over the incident. Mahere requested Ass Comm Nyathi to testify in her corner during the defence case, where she was asked to explain herself over the tweet. She wanted to tender into the court record a police statement made by Asst Comm Nyathi over the incident.

The police found that its officer had used a baton to smash a kombi window, some bits of glass hit the mother and child, police took the two to West End Clinic, but the police at the scene never reported the matter to their superiors as they were supposed to.

"After falsehoods have been raised, then concerns were raised from senior Government officials, police and even members of the public. As the command we then instituted investigations.

"There was total chaos to be quite honest because this false information caused panic among public, Government officials and the police and that is why investigations were instituted.

"We made the statement because we wanted to set the record straight and the post had said police killed child," he said.

Ass Comm Nyathi said Mahere had an obligation to verify information surrounding the incident before she posted.

Even members of the public had a duty to verify facts with the police before they posted information on social media.

"The ZRP is a public institution where if something happens and if people do not have information they are free to approach police stations. They should not join band wagon of people causing mayhem through falsehoods. We appeal to them to approach the police," he said.

Asst Comm Nyathi told the court that Mahere communicated falsehoods since the child at the centre of the story was alive. He told the court that had invited the mother and child to his office, being driven in by the commander of the group at the incident, to ascertain the condition of the child.

"From conclusive investigations it was clear that a baton was used on the kombi screen and fragments went on to hit the mother and baby.

"When we conducted investigations we got to know that after the incident the police responsible negotiated themselves and agreed to take the child to West End Clinic where the child was attended to.

"They (the police at the incident) then decided not to report. But it is clearly utterly false that the child died. The commander instructed to bring the child and mother and I personally saw the child to confirm that the child was indeed alive," he said.

Ass Comm Nyathi told the court that police do not condone acts of smashing kombi windscreens while exercising their duties, as this does endanger the lives of innocent members of the public.

"We have made it clear that there is a standard procedure that says when members of police are performing their duties they must not recklessly use batons when dealing with kombi operators and if an incident occurs they must report to their commanders so that it is noted in case of concerns or queries being raised.

"Unfortunately, this incident was not reported and our statement was clear on that," he said.

Ass Comm Nyathi told the court that he only came to know of the incident after concerns were raised over the social media posts.

"We only came to know when it was posted on social media and Government officials were raising concerns and that is when we investigated.

"The fact that they (police at the scene) did not report to their commanders reflects that they did not perform their duty in a proper manner," he said.

Ass Comm Nyathi said police eventually took action against the "errant" police officers.

"Action taken by police has nothing to do with false information communicated. Investigations were conducted and we discovered that there were people who were lying to the public to say the child has been killed," he said.

Mahere is expected to be back in court on March 23 when Harare regional magistrate Mr Taurai Manuwere is expected to make a judgment in the matter.

Mrs Netsai Mushayabasa and Miss Sheila Mupindu prosecuted.

Source - The Herald