Cops attack kid at MDC rally

Munyaradzi Wasosa

POLICE on Saturday allegedly assaulted an 11-year-old Kambuzuma boy as they tried to prevent people from attending an opposition MDC rally in the suburb, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt

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In an interview on Wednesday, Tsitsi Nikitai, the boy’s mother, said a ZRP Defender truck blocked their way as they were about to enter Rugare Stadium, the venue of the rally.

“About a dozen baton stick-wielding police officers jumped out of the truck and started beating up people who were pouring into the stadium,” she said.

Nikitai and her son Richard Tiriboyi, who were going to the rally, were also attacked.

Tiriboyi, who spoke to the Independent in the presence of his mother, said he was wearing an NCA T-shirt that apparently caught one policeman’s attention, who began chasing him.

“I ran in a different direction from my mother but failed to jump over a ditch,” Tiriboyi said. “The policeman caught up with me and beat me up with his baton stick before shoving me into the ditch where I fell headlong.”

The boy sustained a deep cut on his chin after he hit a rock, and bled profusely, before being rescued by a fleeing man who rushed him to Kuwadzana clinic.

An angry mob led by Kuwadzana MP Nelson Chamisa barred the police from leaving the scene of the incident.

Nikitai said the police blamed her for the boy’s injury.

“We demanded an explanation from the police who said we should not have been there in the first place,” Nikitai said.

MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai addressed the rally, which was attended by over 5 000 people.

“What kind of police force is this which brutalises innocent children who want to attend an MDC rally?” said Tsvangirai, holding the blood-stained kid.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention requires member states to protect children from abuse of any kind.

In an interview Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure said the attack was a harbinger of worse things to come.

“This brutal act indicates where we are going as a nation,” he said. “We have had a number of rallies in my constituency and we never had problems with the police before.”

Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena denied that the policeman beat the child.

“We are just as human as anyone else,” Bvudzijena said. “So no police officer would want to injure a child.”

Bvudzijena however admitted that the police used force to disperse people who had gone to attend the rally.

“If they (police) observed something sinister, then there was need for them to react and deal with that situation,” he said. “When there is need to disperse a crowd, we use what we call minimum force.”

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