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I was terrorized by Luveve police for making a report

14 Jun 2020 at 19:26hrs | Views
Most of us reassure ourselves that as long as we never break the law, the police will never have reason to bother us. We also assume that when you go report a crime, at the very least you can expect the police to act professionally and pretend to assist you where their lack of resources (or let us face it, ineptitude) prevents them from actually doing so. Well, think again. Going to the police to make a report can be worse than actually being caught committing a crime-if my recent experiences at one Luveve police station in Bulawayo are anything to go by.

I went to the above mentioned police station on the 12th of last month (May, 2020) to make a complaint and what followed were two of the most bizarre and degrading days of not only my life but unfortunately that of my own mother at the hands of the police. It all started with the issue that triggered my naive and ill-advised decision to seek the assistance of the police.

There is a man who has a prolonged history of harassing my mother and younger sister.  After one such incident I approached him and asked him to stop. He immediately took offence and drew an axe on me. That was when I made the foolish decision to take the matter to my nearest police station which is Luveve. So began my reeducation of just how unprofessional the ZRP can be. From sun basking, idle, loitering policemen interrupting my narration of the ordeal by beckoning and chiding me with demands of,  "Come here and tell us your story boy". I am in my mid-twenties-it is young, but not young enough for me to be happy about being referred to as "boy". I did my best to ignore this obnoxiousness while I recounted the offending incident.

I was assigned what they call an Investigation Officer who was identified as Mutasa. Unbeknownst to me, Mutasa would lead the misbehavior and mistreatment that my family and myself would suffer that following week. When I first met the man he lazily told me that he would get on my case "when he got the time".

A week later when I had almost forgotten about the report I had made, an impatient Mutasa and two other officers came early in the morning and unceremoniously collected myself, the axe wielder and, against all my protests, my younger sister and mother as well. I should have started worrying when one of the officers accompanying Mutasa displayed over familiarity with the person I had made a complaint about.

What followed at the police station left me mostly at a loss of words and destroyed any shred of respect or trust I ever harboured for the police in this country. My mother, who again was collected against my protests as a "witness", was subjected to one of the most sickening misogynistic and senseless displays of power right in front of my eyes. Right from the start, Mutasa turned his full hostility on her. I could only watch, helplessly in horror as my own mother was forced to cower as the policeman gleefully launched into a barrage of threats and insults. Threatening to immediately put the innocent woman in jail appeared to be his favourite. The increasingly panicked look on her face appeared to delight and fuel his antics even further.

What should have been a simple case devolved into an unprofessional and silly display of power where the man took statements while delivering threats and yelling loud enough for his spittle to fly across the room. By the end I had wasted half a day, was behind on my work and was generally unhappy. We were ordered to come back to the station the next day with further threats of arrest if we did not.

If I expected better treatment the next day I was sorely disappointed. Officer Mutasa kicked things off by pulling out what he claimed to be my statement and started reading off it. When he came to a sentence which I never remembered making, I told him so and the man once again devolved into a fit of rage. He shouted that I was wasting his very important time and that I was "disrespecting his uniform ". The threats to put everyone involved in jail started again and we could not help but take them seriously due to the sheer level of derangement that the man was displaying. My efforts to calm him down were futile. I was apologizing while trying to explain myself. It did not take long for some of his colleagues to gleefully join the uncalled for onslaught. This disgusting behavior was apparently normal at the station. The humiliation we experienced for making a police report was outdoors, in public and in full view of passer-bys.

At one point my mother made a single utterance which was enough for Mutasa to turn his entire wrath on her.  Once again, my mother, a woman I only know as strong and dignified, was threatened, yelled at and this time ultimately reduced to tears. It was then that I got fed up with the man and his colleagues' behaviour and stopped caring about his threats of jail. A lot was said, of which one of the most disturbing was a dark statement by another officer in plain clothes that they had "ambulance numbers and coffins".

After Mutasa had gotten tired of insulting my distraught mother, he once again turned to me and calmly assured me that he wanted to put my mother and myself in jail purely and solely out of spite and I could complain to whomever I wanted.  "Nhasi ndinoda kukuratidza kuti kudzidza kwako hakuna basa," he muttered bitterly. The person I had made a complaint about sat through the whole ordeal looking smug and self-satisfied. The police ignored him entirely.

After everything and the police's distasteful treatment of my mother and myself I no longer cared about the complaint I had originally made. I was just happy and felt lucky to avoid a weekend in a smelly jail cell (during winter) for no reason whatever.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police needs to do better. I am forced to wonder what kind of training you give your officers if they make it a policy to abuse members of the public (and women for that matter) who are foolish enough to make complaints, in full view of the public. People deserve a more professional police force, not the band of thugs you currently have manning your stations. The uncalled for sickening disrespect and sexism against my parent is frankly unforgivable. Luveve Police Station put your house in order.

Source - T.S Mabhena
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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