THE behaviour that was portrayed by police at Harare Central police station when they arrested National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) members should be condemned in the strongest terms.
NCA members were arrested on Wednesday las
t week and illegally detained by the police who released them to court on Saturday. During the detention, the police brutalised them.
A senior police officer in the PISI department by the name of Mr Mhondoro gave instructions to the junior officers to beat them up and was also personally involved in the assaults.
It is unfortunate that senior police officers behave in a manner characteristic of a military state.
As a civic body we also question how the system gets such people in senior posts. What justification is there for police to detain in custody mothers with babies less than 12 months old?
At Harare Central police station, an NCA member, Evidence Johns, collapsed due to uninhabitable conditions in the cells and our lawyers were denied access to ferry her to a private doctor after the police had decided to take her to Parirenyatwa Hospital where she could not get treatment because doctors were on strike.
In Mutare police subjected our members to inhumane and brutal treatment. One of our members is still battling for his life following an assault over an unspecified charge.
Police accused our members of compromising the gains of Independence and selling out Zimbabwe to the West. Who is selling to the West: NCA members who are rejecting the use of a constitution crafted in the West, or the police who beat up these people for rejecting the continuous use of the flawed document?
The role of the police is not to unleash terror on people they arrest under the cover of safeguarding peace. Neither should they serve the interests of a select group of people.
The police are among the most poorly-paid civil servants and it’s pathetic that they defend and protect a collapsed system of governance.
The demonstrations that we staged as the NCA are also meant to liberate the police officers because as citizens of Zimbabwe they are languishing in poverty.
Police should not vent their frustrations over economic hardships on ordinary Zimbabweans who are simply calling for an end to problems which directly emanate from misgovernance that gets all its moral support from a defective constitution.
It’s shocking that the police were still battling to find a charge for our members two days after they had arrested them, only to settle on the new Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act.
The specific section prevents people from blocking roads or pavements. This kind of law might be constitutional but very undemocratic and a threat to the institution of democracy. Such a law is a mockery to those who sacrificed their lives to liberate Zimbabwe from white minority rule.
The law is a duplication of the laws used by Ian Smith to perpetuate white minority rule in Zimbabwe.
As NCA we believe that a new home-grown constitution will have checks and balances for the police force and will totally eradicate unruly elements. Instead of having hooligans as senior police officers, Zimbabwe needs professionals who understand the role of a police force in a democratic society.
Police brutality is uncivilised, it undermines the gains of our Independence and tarnishes the image of our nation in the eyes of strategic partners.