By Victor Z Mtau
I READ these excerpts: “The Zimbabwe government itself is conceding liability for the perpetration of gross human rights violations”; “State agents fin
gered in human rights abuse”, (Zimbabwe Independent, June 30).
The Human Rights Forum said it would send its report to the United Nations to press for further action against the government. Police were cited as the most common perpetrators.
“People in detention are generally at a much greater risk of abuse unless there are extremely strong safeguards in place governing the process of detaining people,” reads the report.
“People in custody are likely to be beaten irrespective of their alleged crime, political or criminal, and are commonly subjected to falanga — the excruciatingly painful practice of beating the soles of the feet, which leaves little obvious bruising.”
Police had “adopted torture as a means to eliciting confessions on a widespread basis”, the report says.
Harare Central police station was cited as the worst station where people have suffered severe torture.
At first I thought this was an exaggeration by a non-governmental organisation until I saw a police officer at Mzilikazi Police Station, Bulawayo, beat up two young ladies in full view of his colleagues and the public on June 29 at precisely 13:50hrs in the charge office.
I had gone there with my daughter to have copies of her school certificates stamped. Funnily enough, my daughter wants to join the ZRP and what she saw that day shocked her.
I heard another plain-clothes officer refer to an alleged thug as Marabishi (trash) as the terrified girls were led up the stairs to a first floor office. In the office, whose windows face 6th Avenue Extension, and in full view of officers in the courtyard, Marabishi slapped and kicked the two hapless girls, branding them prostitutes.
The fact that Marabishi had started assaulting the girls in the charge office showed that it is normal procedure at the station. And to think that not even one police officer, including the female officers present, lifted a finger in defence of the two poor girls, is appalling. Not suprisingly, my daughter no longer wants to join the force.
* Victor Z Mtau writes from Mzilikazi, Bulawayo.