HARARE - Dying at the hands of the police who are supposed to be protecting civilians is a disturbing scenario that unfortunately befell Mugove Manonge who was allegedly strangled at a police roadblock after he had failed to pay a $10 spot fine.
In the most unusual of circumstances, Manonge is alleged to have been strangled by three police officers and two members of the neighbourhood watch at a roadblock along the Harare-Marondera Road.
Richard Buzuzu, 28, Liberty Magodo, 29, Tinevimbo Muzezewa, 29, Tafadzwa Turipa, 25, and Rambo Bhunu, 38 were later brought to court on culpable homicide charges before Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya.
Buzuzu, Magodo and Muzezewa are stationed at Chivhu, Furtherstone and Beatrice police stations respectively while Turipa and Bhunu are members of the neighbourhood watch.
Manonge who was, 24, at the time of his death, left behind his wife and six-year-old daughter, was under the care of his uncle Kimpton Manonge in 2004 after his father had passed away.
“I assumed custody of the late Mugove, after my brother had passed on and we sat down as a family to decide on how we would assist him to have a career and fend for himself,” Kimpton told the Daily News on Sunday.
“I sent him to driving school since he had only passed four subjects at Ordinary Level. I had a transport company K ‘n’ V Investments and knew that I could fit him in after acquiring a driver’s licence.
“He worked for me for about five years before we decided that we would award him one of the commuter omnibuses. His business did well and by the time of his death he had managed to acquire a stand in Macheke and left a house that was at window-level
“We had also hopped that he would continue to fend for his mother and siblings who looked up to him as the bread winner. Things were beginning to look up for them but it all vanished into dust.”
“His family is suffering and now relies on selling recharge cards to earn a living. For once we had thought that he would develop his family and siblings but unfortunately the burden still falls on us,” Kimpton added.
Prosecutor Ephraim Zinyandu alleged that on November 1, 2014 Buzuzu, Magodo and Muzezewa were manning a roadblock at the 20km peg along Marondera-Murewa Road in Marondera.
It is alleged that Turipa and Bhunu were sitting at a nearby Bemba bus stop waiting for a relative who was coming from Marondera.
Around 4pm Manonge approached the roadblock driving a commuter omnibus registration number ACL 3362 carrying 14 passengers.
It is alleged that Buzuzu signaled Manonge to pull off the road before inspecting the vehicle and advised Manonge to pay a fine of $10 for driving without a licence.
An altercation ensued after Manonge said he did not have the money and it is alleged that the three police officers were overpowered by Manonge who was resisting arrest.
The court heard Turipa and Bhunu intervened, and Buzuzu grabbed Manonge’s throat tightly while others grabbed his legs, waist and hands.
Manonge was eventually handcuffed and fell down unconscious.
He was rushed to Marondera Provincial Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
A post-mortem concluded that Manonge died from strangulation.
Police deputy commissioner general Levi Sibanda is on record warning rogue cops against abuse of office.
“Let me emphasise that any police officer who obtains or agrees to accept a token of appreciation as a reward for executing or not executing his or her mandate will have no one to blame if the proverbial long-arm of the law catches up with her or him,” Sibanda said recently.
But there seems to be a growing trend of police officers brought to the courts to answer to criminal cases.
In one of the cases a cop based at Zimbabwe Republic Police Protection Unit who mounted an unauthorised roadblock before extorting money from motorists recently appeared in court.
Kudzanai Kwashirai, 34, is being charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
The complainant is Bernard Andries Bester.
Prosecutor Peter Kachirika alleged that on February 23, Bester was driving his Mazda BT50 when he was suddenly stopped by a Toyota Mark II which was driven by two uniformed cops.
Kwashirai was in the company of his accomplice Tawanda Nyamutamba who is currently on the run.
The court heard that Kwashirai disembarked from his car and told Bester that he had committed various traffic offences.
Bester was ordered to pay $380 or have his car impounded.
According to State papers Bester told the cops that he only had $92 and they advised him that it was not enough and had to add another $50.
Kwashirai and Nyamutamba were given $142 before threatening to take Bester to court the next time they would meet.
The accused persons took the money but did not issue Bester with a receipt.
Bester drove away towards Norton and came across police officers who were manning a roadblock before narrating his story to them.
Bester was told that he had been a victim of daylight robbery and he made a U-turn and drove towards the city.
The court heard that Bester noticed Kwashirai’s car about four vehicles from where he was as he approached ZBC Licensing roadblock near Westlea.
Bester began chasing after Kwasirai while taking pictures of their vehicle. Kwashirai started speeding and Bester gave chase, and when they reached the Warren Park roundabout the accused persons made a U-turn and drove towards Norton.
When they arrived at Kuwadzana roundabout, Kwashirai and Nyamutamba turned left into Highglen Road.
Bester was, unfortunately, stopped at a robot at the intersection of Kuwadzana and Highglen Roads.
He noticed that Kwashirai’s car had veered off the road and landed in a maize field.
The court heard that Kwashirai and Nyamutamba left the car and started fleeing on foot.
Bester shouted for help and Kwashirai was caught with the assistance of the public before being ferried to Marimba Police Station.