THE ongoing murder trial at the Mutare High Court involving a Chiadzwa villager has brought police brutality and impunity during investigations and in dealing with civilians to the spotlight once again.
Police officers in Mutare have fingered their superior Chief Superintendent Joseph Chani as being responsible for the death of Tsorosai Kusena –– a suspected diamond dealer –– who died after alleged torture while in police custody. The three officers reportedly said their boss approved the use of torture during Kusena’s interrogation, which led to his death.
Although this has outraged his family and the community, the claims are hardly surprising since the police have for a long time been accused of, among other things, using violent methods, torture and other extra-judicial measures when dealing with suspects, be it in political, criminal or civil matters.
In March this year all hell broke loose in the small mining town of Shamva when police rounded up Ashley Mine residents and severely assaulted them over a case involving the officer-in-charge’s wife, resulting in the death of Luxmore Chivambo.
The officer-in-charge Inspector Aspias Shumba was later arrested but is out on US$100 bail, while his six subordinates are out on US$50 bail each.
By contrast, 29 Glen View residents facing charges of murdering a police officer last year continue to languish in remand after being denied bail.
Police are pulling out all the stops to secure convictions, while they ignore many murders of civilians.
The case is as much about the murder of a policeman as it is about police brutality.
Police ruthlessness is rampant. In 2006 police allegedly picked up and savagely beat up organisers of a demonstration for better living conditions who included former ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe and his president Lovemore Matombo.
In 2007, police allegedly shot dead in cold blood a National Constitutional Assembly activist Gift Tandare during a Save Zimbabwe Campaign peace rally in Highfield, but there were no arrests made.
During the same year, police severely assaulted then opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, over a public meeting which they claimed was unlawful. Tsvangirai sustained severe injuries, including a broken skull, triggering global outrage and condemnation.
Concerned Zimbabweans have expressed horror at police barbarity and impunity, calling for security forces to be held accountable for their brutality.
Human rights activists have condemned police violence, including their approach of arresting in order to investigate. Police often lose cases in court due to lack of evidence.