Churches condemn police brutality

HARARE - Churches have condemned police brutality and savage beatings of peaceful protesters which they said violated the Constitution.

This comes in the wake of Wednesday and Thursday’s barbaric attacks on vendors and Tajamuka/Sesjikile members who were protesting against the introduction of bond notes.

Dozens of protesters were injured in the attacks.

In a statement Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) director Useni Sibanda said the police brutality will not address the current economic woes facing the country.

“ZCA condemns the police brutality against peaceful demonstrations by citizens. The beating up of peaceful demonstrators by police, which has resulted in severe injuries, is a gross violation of human rights which are protected by the new Constitution,” said Sibanda.

“The Constitution provides in Chapter 4, Section 59 that every person has a right to peacefully demonstrate and present petitions. The police continue to violate these citizens’ rights in the most brutal manner that is unacceptable.

“It seems that the Government, instead of responding to the citizens’ genuine grievances and petitions, has decided to respond through brutal force and harassment of people.”

On Thursday, police battered and left for dead outspoken National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) chairman, Sten Zvorwadza — who had gone to Harare Central Police Station to hand over a peace offering to law enforcement agents.

Zvorwadza’s brutal assault, which resulted in him being admitted at a private clinic in the capital, also came after riot police savagely crushed a Tajamuka/Sesjikile march on Wednesday.

The ruthless crackdown on all dissenting voices by President Robert Mugabe’s panicking government triggered an outpouring of anger across the country, with rights groups and pro-democracy groups saying there was now an urgent need for the intervention of the regional Sadc bloc in the deepening Zimbabwe crisis.

“This has to stop before further damage is inflicted. The pains and cries of the people which are due to deepening poverty, unemployment, hunger, severe cash shortage and desperation to survive will not disappear by brutalising them but the Government needs to have clear answers and respond to their needs,” said Sibanda.

“The ministry of Home Affairs should also investigate this and prosecute the offending officers. ZCA urges Zimbabweans to continue with their peaceful demonstrations until their grievances are addressed.”

Outspoken preacher Ancelimo Magaya who is the director of Zimbabwe Divine Destiny said police are merely brutalising people who are crying for help.

“People have genuine concerns but we are worried that the police are beating them because they are trying to express their concerns,’ Magaya told the Daily News.

“This week we postponed our demonstration and we are going to do it next week, we want to add our voice against beating of peaceful protestors who are only demanding a better economy.”

Mugabe and Zanu PF, in power for 36 uninterrupted years, are facing their biggest challenge to their rule, which ordinary Zimbabweans say has been disastrous.

The announcement of the imminent introduction of bond notes has caused panic among Zimbabweans as it has revived memories of the 2007 and 2008 economic catastrophes which were marked by severe food shortages and hyperinflation.

Some of the prominent people who have spoken against the bond notes include former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who has likened the bond notes to “useless toilet paper” and has since approached the courts to bar the government from issuing them.

However, the government seems unperturbed by the anti-bond notes calls, with the Reserve Bank saying it is “well on track” to unveil the bond notes in October despite the public’s resistance.

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