Makone slams police harassment of innocent people

Co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone has slammed the conduct of some members of the police force after incidents in both Harare and Nkayi, where officers assaulted “innocent people going about their business”.

Theresa Makone
Theresa Makone

In a strongly worded statement Makone said: “As Minister of Home Affairs, I wish to register my displeasure at the deplorable action by the police in Nkayi who have also become notorious for dispersing lawful gatherings sanctioned by the courts.”

The police should be guided only by their national obligation to serve the people. It does not bode well for the image of the police if they are seen as being at the forefront of assaulting and harassing people instead of protecting them. There are a few bad apples that are tarnishing the image of the entire police force,” she said.

In Harare police have been on the rampage, fighting running battles with vendors who are trying to make an honest living. An attempt by a dozen officers to confiscate their wares backfired on Wednesday as the vendors fought back by pelting them with stones. Riot police were called in and used tear gas.

The following day the police descended on the MDC-T Harvest House headquarters, claiming youths selling pirated CD’s outside were responsible for the disturbances.

SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said: ‘The police brought three trucks loads, carrying over 100 heavily armed riot officers, to arrest four people. Many innocent people were caught up in the crossfire as the police went about beating innocent people on the streets.”

‘It was a show of force in harassing and detaining harmless residents. People were saying this is typical of the police, which sees itself as beholden to the elite in ZANU PF while daily intimidating and brutalizing ordinary Zimbabweans,” Muchemwa said.

Minister Makone echoed the same sentiments saying: “It is a fact that as Minister of Home Affairs, I have not been spared the embarrassment of having my own lawful rallies dispersed by unruly elements while the police watched. This undermines the people’s confidence in the police force.”

Makone said she had engaged the police chief, “On many occasions about all these issues and nothing has changed. I have alerted the President, to whom all these service chiefs report to on operational issues, and there has not been any shift in the general conduct of some members of the police.”

The general lawlessness and lack of professionalism within the police force is exemplified by the fact that they are also engaging in money making ventures like flea markets.

On Monday SW Radio Africa reported how Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, defended the flea market which the police are running at the Harare Central Police Station car park. Despite having no council approval, vendors are having to pay police to set up at the flea market.

Some police officers are also running large fleets of commuter omnibuses and it’s now believed regular crackdowns on so-called unroadworthy vehicles are an attempt to get rid of the competition. The same seems to be the case with the targeting of street vendors, when the police are also running flea markets.

The general lawlessness is also there for all to see in the mad rush for gold in Kwekwe. It’s reported 16 ZANU PF youths were arrested on Wednesday including a losing ZANU PF parliamentary candidate, Masango Matambanadzo.

The group allegedly attacked a gold panner using a shovel while trying to force their way into Sherwood Block where huge deposits of alluvial gold were recently discovered. Reports say the panner received 16 stitches in the head after the attack.

Although the discovery triggered a mad rush by thousands of gold panners ZANU PF officials muscled in and declared that only loyal party supporters could mine there. It’s reported ZANU PF convened a rally, attended by hundreds of panners, and announced that the party had taken over.

All these incidents are worrying developments indicating an even greater break down in law and order and the creation of ‘fiefdoms’ (small areas controlled by thugs). – SW Radio Africa

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