Courts get tough on police brutality

HARARE - Zimbabwean courts are getting tougher on police misconduct, which has remained an incessant problem.

And courts are moving fast to act on police brutality by convicting rogue officers.

With many people bearing the brunt of this rising phenomenon, quite a number of victims have dragged these abusive officers to court, often with the help of organisations such as the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

In the latest case, a Mutare magistrate has convicted two Honde Valley cops Prince Chihwai and Munyaradzi Willard Matienga based at Ruda Police Station.

Magistrate Annia Ndiraya jailed the two cops to one month imprisonment for battering Kuziwa Samera, a villager they alleged was hiding Tendai Tafara, a suspect they were pursuing.

After reporting the abusive cops to ZLHR, Samera was picked up by the duo and detained for three days ostensibly to show him that “your lawyers are not as educated as we are”.

The case is just one of many involving wayward officers, but the cops were given an option of a $50 fine each.

Possibly, the biggest case of police misconduct this year was of Joseph Chani, a chief superintendent who was jailed for 18 years in July for murdering a villager he accused of illegally mining diamonds in Chiadzwa.

In Bulawayo, constables Mary Zvapera, Virginia Matinde and Passmore Feremba were convicted last month for clobbering Bulawayo residents Agnes Muponda and Thaba Mtetwa on flimsy theft allegations.

Police conduct has been under scrutiny for some time.

Apart from ordinary citizens, dozens of political and human rights activists have suffered arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, and torture while in police custody.

Article 12.1(b) of the power sharing Global Political Agreement commits the coalition government to “undertake training programmes, workshops and meetings for the police and other enforcement agencies directed at the appreciation of the right of freedom of assembly and association and the proper interpretation, understanding and application of the provisions of security legislation.”

Little appears to have been done, though, to improve professionalism within the police force.

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