Police in Zimbabwe on Thursday severely beat up prominent activist Sten Zvorwadza who led some street traders to the Harare Central Station to express their dismay over alleged police brutality.
Zvorwadza, who is the board chairperson of the National Vendors of Zimbabwe, arrived at the Harare Central Police Station together with another activist, Patson Dzamara, while holding flowers that they attempted to distribute to police officers who had already mounted a barricade.
Some police officers approached Zvorwadza who tried to explain that their demonstration was going to be peaceful but in no time, some baton-wielding officers came out of the station in full speed and assaulted Zvorwadza while Dzamara took to his heels for safety.
Zvorwadza had earlier told reporters that their demonstration was meant to send a message to the police that they were supposed to protect citizens and not to victimize them when they are demonstrating against problems they are facing.
He police were violating the constitution whenever they violently dispersed peaceful protesters.
Dzamara weighed in saying police were violating citizens’ right to freedoms of assembly and expression.
After assaulting Zvorwadza, the cops went on to beat up people who were at the Charge Office Bus Terminus and in the process an elderly woman was injured on her head while another unidentified woman was arrested.
It could not be established how many people were part of the planned protests as most activists were among people who were boarding commuter omnibuses at the terminus.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told Studio 7 that she was unable to comment on what happened at Harare Central Station claiming that she was yet to be briefed about the incident.
President Mugabe told the nation recently his government would not allow any form of protests. This, despite constitutional provisions allowing peaceful demonstrations.
Meanwhile, a local non-governmental organization, Heal Zimbabwe Trust, issued a statement condemning police brutality on demonstrators. The organization implored the government to swiftly provide effective and independent complaint mechanisms that would receive and investigate complaints from the public against members of the security services in compliance with the constitution.
The statement also called on government to use non-violent and engaging processes that seek to address challenges amicably and that the police were violating their own code of conduct by assaulting peaceful protestors.