Police must serve and protect

HARARE - Trigger-happy Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers should at all costs desist from using live bullets when controlling large crowds and enforcing the law on suspects.

It is very sad that barely a week after two innocent citizens fending for their families were shot dead, now emerges a leaked ZRP memorandum on February 19 addressed to the officer commanding Masvingo Province, Martha Mafolo detailing the shooting to death of a suspected turkey thief.

What is it with our police force that whenever they are investigating suspected crime or when they are asked to bring order, they provoke people and end up firing live bullets?

There wouldn’t be an outcry if our cops shoot or exchange gun fire with armed robbers. No, infact they would be saluted for the acts of bravery and ridding our society of malcontents.

The police must serve and protect and it thus defies logic when officers go on to exhibit blatant and excessive heavy-handedness against the very same people they are supposed to protect.

It may therefore not be far from reality for one to think our police officers feel starved from using guns hence the overexcitement to just pull the trigger even when faced with people holding stones!

Very few Zimbabweans own guns unlike in other countries where gun violence is the order of the day.

Zimbabwe has the most peaceful people who do not want violence, moreover, they are never armed as compared to other nationalities in the region.

Police in South Africa use live bullets when it is really necessary and usually when dealing with armed robbers.

Last week, five of their officers and a soldier were shot dead by armed robbers during a raid on one of their stations in the Eastern Cape province.

ZRP needs complete overhaul and retraining especially on crowd control.

Many people have lost their lives because of the force’s ignorance and more importantly its gross incompetence.

ZRP should remember that citizens are at the heart of their operations.

The November 18, 2017 protests proved Zimbabweans are capable of engaging in peaceful demonstrations without the presence of the police whose policing methods and conduct always seem to trigger violence and confrontation.

Zimbabweans for the first time were allowed to exercise their constitutional right to demonstrate and petition without police interference and it was peaceful .

ZRP needs to swap provocative and heavy-handed tactics in maintaining law and order with peaceful and non-violent engagements with the public and even suspects who most of the time are unarmed.

ZRP needs to swallow their pride and learn from countries such as South Africa on crowd control and other policing methods otherwise we will continue to lose lives unnecessarily at their hands.

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