At a time when scores of police officers under Assistant Commissioner Florence Marume, publicly led assaults against MDC Alliance President Nelson Chamisa, over 15 cops, who were arrested on Wednesday, have been taken to court for allegedly disrupting a Zanu PF meeting and assaulting party members in Bindura, Mashonaland Central province, two weeks ago.
The 15 were taken to court yesterday to answer to a charge of public violence. They were thrown into cells in police uniform, according to police sources.
Dick Wisdom Mhonda (38), Munyaradzi Mwaka Marowa (32), Tatenda Bradwell Makuvaza (28), Ndlela Madhenkosi (29), Darlington Tsikai (34), Evidence Kusemwaenda (33), Yeukai Beatrice Guvamombe (36), Allex Zviramwa (43), Raymond Guveya (35), Trymore Nyambo (37), Tawanda Chakanyuka (32), Martin Mutize (32), Victor Sibanda (34), Emmanuel Timoti (39) and Brian Hlahla (41) are all from Bindura Rural Police Station.
Part of the charge sheet read: “On October 5, 2021, at Mupandira Business Centre, Musana, Bindura, the accused, who are police officers and their accomplices, who are still at large, went to the place of occurrence armed with batons and tear canisters.
“The accused also had two police dogs and were driving in three private motor vehicles, a Honda Fit, a Nissan Vanette belonging to Lloyd Chiropa, who is still outstanding, and a Nissan Sunny belonging to accused number one.
“The accused were numbering 18. Upon arrival at the business centre, the accused, without being provoked, disembarked from the motor vehicles and indiscriminately assaulted the complainants using batons.”
The charge sheet further read: “The accused also set the police dogs and released tear smoke on the complainants which caused pandemonium at the business centre. By so doing, the accused forcibly and, to a serious extent, disturbed peace, security or order of the public and invaded the rights of the complainants.
“The complainants sustained varying degrees of injuries and were referred to hospital for treatment. The medical reports can be produced as evidence.”
They appeared before Bindura magistrate Tinashe Ndokera with prosecutor Clement Kuwanda saying the 15 did not deserve bail because as police officers they were conversant with the country’s porous borders, which makes them potential flight risks.
They were remanded in custody to today for bail ruling.
Some of the complainants, the police said, were old and disabled, hence the moral blameworthiness of the accused was very high.
According to police sources, the 15 were arrested for bashing Zanu PF supporters who were at a district restructuring meeting at the business centre.
This was after three of their members had been beaten up by ruling party supporters while trying to arrest a suspect, who is believed to be a Zanu PF member.
“Three police officers went to arrest a wanted person and upon arresting, people from the village including the accused began to attack the police, leading to one of the police officers getting seriously injured,” a police source said.
“The other police officers then reacted in a bid to arrest the culprits, so in the process interrupted a Zanu PF meeting. Now the police are under fire for reacting and disrupting Zanu PF elections. Things have turned nasty.”
On October 11, officer commanding Mashonaland Central province Commissioner Priscilla Makotose and one Superintendent J Pauta of police intelligence were transferred from the province in what sources claimed was victimisation for allowing police officers to assault Zanu PF members.
Makotose has been transferred to Manicaland where she is swapping with Commissioner W Makechemu while Pauta has been posted to Midlands where he is swapping with Superintendent T Chikarahate.
National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said the transfers were routine and sanctioned by Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga.
But sources said the officer-in-charge of Bindura Rural Police Station was summoned to Harare to explain why his subordinates attacked the Zanu PF supporters.
The source claimed political pressure from the ruling party. Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe hails from Mashonaland Central province.
Before the officers’ arrest, Zanu PF members were posting on WhatsApp groups in the province expressing shock that police had the audacity to attack ruling party supporters, something they claimed never happened during the late former President Robert Mugabe’s rule.
Early this month, police in Mashonaland Central warned of an increase in police officers violating the Police Act. -Newsday/Additional reporting