ZRP incompetence levels alarming

roy_bennett3The recent state media reports that two police officers and 23 recruits were arraigned before the courts facing assault charges as defined by the Criminal law Codification and Reform Act (chapter 9:23) does not only reveal the extent of police brutality against innocent citizens, but also exposes the gross incompetence leve

According to The Sunday Mail, the 25 police details descended on Chawakira village in Shamva and assaulted innocent villagers using clenched fists and booted feet. They also poured water on the villagers and ordered them to smear mud on their faces, all in the name of settling a personal dispute between one of the villagers and the two police officers.

It is disturbing to note such levels of torture and human rights abuses on innocent civilians by uniformed forces exactly two years after a horrific state masterminded attack on innocent villagers in the run-up to the sham 2008 June Presidential run-off election. This incident confirms the widely held notion that the ZRP is a violent police force, which is used by the former ruling Zanu (PF) party as an instrument of torture against anyone perceived to be opposing its archaic ideology.

The fact that 23 of the 25 police details implicated in the torture are recruits clearly indicates that our police officers are inadequately trained and a lot of tax payers money is being put to waste at Morris depot. The MDC and the progressive civil society have always been rightly calling for security sector reforms and this incident calls for nothing short of that. Police recruits are being indoctrinated with hoggish Zanu (PF) ideology and are being taught violence as part of that training.

In their initial court appearance, the 23 recruits said that they were, taking orders from their seniors. This has been the excuse given by our police force each time they unleash terror against MDC members and supporters, students, human rights defenders and the greater progressive civil society. The ZRP has widely documented cases of human rights abuses against innocent civilians under the cover of, taking orders from above. The origin of this mess is at Morris depot and this must be urgently stopped.

The same police officers who take orders from above took nine years to prepare and bring a docket to court implicating Senator Roy Bennett in the hoarding of 92,289 tonnes of maize. The Attorney General [AG] later declined to prosecute. The Commissioner General of Police Augustine Chihuri must come clean on Senator Bennetts case. He holds a constitutional office and it is his duty to sincerely explain to the nation whether it is normal practice for the ZRP to take nine years preparing one docket or that it was a simply a case of persecution disguised as prosecution.

When Jestina Mukoko appeared before a magistrates court on 24 December 2008, Chief Superintendent Peter Magwenzi told the court that the state security agents handed over the human rights defender abducted and held incommunicado on 22 December 2008. Despite overwhelming evidence, testimonies and confirmation from the Supreme Court, no arrests have been made. Furthermore Jestina also knows and has named the alleged perpetrators of this heinous crime. Why have the police cast a blind eye? In fact why did Chief Superintendent Magwenzi not arrest the torturers the moment they handed over Jestina to him on 22 December 2008? Is this another case of, taking orders from above?

In one incident during the run up to the violent June 27 2008 Presidential plebiscite, Inspector Kandare who was Officer in Charge Mwenezi Police Station (now Chief Inspector Bikita Police Station) was stopped by marauding for ruling Zanu (PF) party youths at Dinhe Business Centre and asked to produce a Zanu (PF) party card and chant Zanu (PF) slogans. This is despite the fact that he was dressed in police uniform and driving a police marked vehicle.

One will definitely be tempted to ask how the police would dismantle these illegal roadblocks when they themselves were victims of this violence. It is quite evident from this incident that the ZRP at any time are unprepared to handle politically motivated violence. The fact that the Officer in Charge managed to negotiate his way and leave the illegal road block intact speaks volumes of police competence in ensuring a stable political environment during election period.

The ZRP has abandoned its professionalism and its image is in great disrepair. There is urgent need for the co- Home Affairs Ministers Theresa Makone and Kembo Mohadi to urgently introduce a training syllabus which inoculates a sense of human rights appreciation and asserts professional conduct in our police force. This might help alleviate the battered professional image of the ZRP which has gone to the dogs.

By all standards, the ZRP are a bunch of an incompetent lot whose performance of national duties leaves a lot to be desired. They do not even deserve the meager salaries they are getting from treasury. Editors note: Morgen Kulare is the National Research and Advocacy Officer for Youth of Zimbabwe for Transparency and Progress (YZTP).

Post published in: Opinions

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