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Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Probes Alleged Police Brutality

FILE: Armed Zimbabwean police battle rioters in Harare, Monday, July, 4, 2016.
FILE: Armed Zimbabwean police battle rioters in Harare, Monday, July, 4, 2016.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has started investigating what took place at a block of flats in one of Bulawayo’s high density suburbs, where police reportedly abused scores of innocent civilians, as Zimbabweans continue to focus on police brutality in the wake of last week’s mass stay away.

Reported widespread abuse of civilians by police is coming under the spotlight as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission this morning descended on Burombo Flats in the Nguboyenja high density suburb to investigate what transpired during last week’s disturbances following reports that police allegedly tortured innocent civilians.

Burombo Flats, which houses nearly one thousand people, is home to the family of David Mutasa whose one year-old child died after allegedly inhaling excessive tear gas, which police used to flush out suspects involved in violent protests.

ZHRC commissioner Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube told journalists that the Commission had decided to make investigations at Burombo following complaints against the police by some residents.

However, Ndabeni-Ncube, said he could not say more as the Commission still needed to get a full picture of what happened.

“We are here to investigate the complaints by the people of Burombo that their rights were violated on the day there was a stay away. We understand that the police came here and threw teargas in the buildings and people were forced out and they were harassed so we are here to find out for ourselves what exactly happened here.”

Ordinary citizens, civic organisations and the opposition MDC-T have roundly condemned the police’s heavy-handedness, particularly in the wake of protests during the recent stay away.

The commission was established under the country’s constitution to promote as well as raise awareness and respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels of society in the country.

It has the power to investigate allegations of human rights abuses and make necessary recommendations to parliament and to the Commissioner General of police to cause arrests where evidence would have shown that human rights were criminally violated.

Meanwhile, legislator and deputy spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo of the MDC-T was earlier today summoned, held and later released by the police after being questioned by police at Bulawayo Central’s Law and Order Section.

Khumalo told Studio 7 that the police accused her of being one of the people behind the protests that occurred in Bulawayo and across the country.

Khumalo said her party supports the people’s right to demonstrate in order to show their disgruntlement over the hardships that they are facing, but maintained that such protests must be peaceful as engaging in violence is self-destructive.