The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is topping the list of public violence perpetrators in the southern African nation closely followed by the ruling Zanu PF party, according to the latest report of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP).
In the report released Wednesday, ZPP said intimidation and harassment were the most noted human rights violations in December last year despite a sharp decrease in such cases.
“As has been the trend in the past, intimidation and harassment formed the majority of the violations at 60. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) dominated the list of perpetrators, followed by Zanu PF. The dominance by the police reveals a state where there is use of the security apparatus to stifle dissent. This trend is a shift from the former government of the late Robert Mugabe where Zanu PF almost always dominated the list of perpetrators.
“Mashonaland and Harare provinces recorded the highest number of violations with Mashonaland Central recording 22 violations, Harare with 21 violations and Mashonaland East 19 violations. Matabeleland provinces recorded the lowest violations as usual.”
ZPP recorded a total of 119 human rights violations in the month of December. “This is a sharp decrease from the 209 recorded in November 2019. December has always recorded lower numbers of human rights violations probably because focus will be on the farming season and tending to fields.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi was unavailable for comment as he was not responding to calls on his mobile phone.
ZPP said, “Police brutality and harassment is disturbing as it presents a scenario where the supposed citizens’ protectors become a threat to the same citizens.”
It cited several cases of alleged police brutality, including an incident that happened on December 12, 2019, in which anti- riot police officers assaulted and apprehended vendors and members of the public in Harare central business district at Market Square.
“In the midst of street battles with vendors, police assaulted labour rights activist, Nation Mudzitirwa whom they spotted disembarking from renowned human rights lawyer, Douglas Coltart’s vehicle. Mudzitirwa sustained serious injuries on the face, back and knees. Among the victims who were apprehended were six males and seven females.
“The police also forced Mudzitirwa into their vehicle and later released him without any charge, before getting to Harare Central Police Station.”
In another case, ZPP said, on 24 December 2019, Abel Karowangoro, a Zimbabwe Media Commission-accredited journalist working for the Zimbabwe Morning Post, was arrested in Harare’s central business district.
“Karowangoro was apprehended by five anti-riot police officers while filming queues of pensioners battling to withdraw their money from banks. The police details took him to Harare Central Police Station where they interrogated and detained him before his release.
“In a related incident, Blessing Chidakwa, a journalist with the Herald and accredited with the ZMC was detained by police officers on 25 December 2019 and was forced to delete footage he had recorded of police officers smashing windscreens of commuter omnibuses. Chidakwa was manhandled by three police officers at Roadport bus terminus on Christmas Day. The officers dragged him to where their vehicle was parked and forced him to delete all the pictures he had taken. He did not resist for fear of being assaulted with baton sticks that the police were wielding. He was only released after he threatened to notify the National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi of the incident.”
ZPP said politicians were not spared from police harassment as anti-riot police officers harassed Movement for Democratic Change Ward 43 councillor, Norman Makondo, at Budiriro 5 Shopping Centre on 29 December 2019.
“The officers who were raiding vendors harassed Makondo for confronting them at the shopping centre. They took Makondo to Budiriro police station charging him with inciting public violence, by condemning their operation. Makondo was detained and interrogated for hours before being released.”
Several other incidents of alleged police harassment were cited, including a case in which police are said to have demanded a bribe after they found MDC youth having a party in Harare.
They were accused of holding an illegal gathering