Police bias exposed

July 29, 2011 at 7:32 am Leave a comment

By Thelma Chikwanha,

HARARE – Police yesterday arrested 13 human rights campaigners who were on a
peaceful demonstration at the High Court, exposing law enforcement agents’
blatant selective application of the law.

The human rights campaigners were at the court as part of a peaceful protest
to show solidarity with MDC activists who have been languishing in remand
prison for over eight weeks after being accused of killing a policeman.

Lawyers and human rights observers lashed out at yesterday’s arrest of
peaceful campaigners from Restoration of Human Rights (Rohr), pointing out
that dozens of Zanu PF mobsters who beat up an MP and journalists in chaotic
scenes at Parliament on Saturday were still walking free.

None of the Zanu PF mobsters was arrested for the unprecedented fracas that
happened in front of police officers at Parliament, a development observers
say confirms that police is now working more as an extension of Zanu PF.

“We have been highlighting this for a long time that the police are not
carrying out their obligation of upholding the rule of law,” said Irene
Petras, executive director at Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

Rohr human rights campaigners arrested yesterday are Cosmas Ndira, Kimberly
Nyatsanga, Tungamirai Muzulani, Barnabas Mwanaka, Leo Mutema, Kudakwashe
Usavi, John Gumeni, David Mazibiye, Wycliff Chimhandama, Wencilus
Nyamunokora, Trymore Matsitsiro, Isaac Kalongonda, and one Mafodya.

Stendrick Zvorwadza, the Rohr spokesperson, confirmed the arrests. He said
the police action showed gross selective application of the law. “It is very
interesting to see that what is happening (storming of Parliament) is taking
place in the presence of the police who are not taking any action We have
seen how the police have moved in quickly to arrest top politicians from the
MDC or civil society members,” said Zvorwadza.

He said his organisation would continue to demonstrate until the restoration
of human rights in the country.

“We are prepared to die. That is why we are going on to confront this
regime,” Zvorwadza said.

Petras said police had become willing appendages of President Robert Mugabe
and his Zanu PF party. She said police action showed why the issue of
security sector reforms should remain high on the Sadc agenda on election.

“If police were professional and had been arresting perpetrators of violence
instead of victims then we were not going to witness those violent scenes at
Parliament. There is no political will to arrest hooligans and the chaos and
lawlessness shall continue because there is no action taken,” said Petras.

Human rights researcher Pedzisai Ruhanya said the arrest of the activists
revealed that police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri had lost it and
needed to be more professional.

“Zimbabwe needs a police commissioner. As far as Zimbabweans are concerned
we do not have a police commissioner.
“If you want to know how useless the police are, the arrest of these
activists is a typical example yet the thugs who beat up parliamentarians
and journalists are yet to be arrested,” Ruhanya said.

“We even doubt whether those thugs had not spoken to senior police officers
beforehand. If Chihuri needs Zimbabwe to respect him and his office, the
only thing he has to do is resign. He has no conscience,” Ruhanya said.

Ruhanya said the “desperate” actions by security forces who are believed to
be the real power behind Zanu PF and Mugabe were a sign that change was
nearby.

“Whatever the regime is doing, there has never been a government under the
sun that has been there for all time.
“These are signs of the times when such things that we do not expect to
happen begin to happen.

It shows that the regime is almost collapsing when these uncouth and
unlawful things begin to happen. It tells us we are closer to transition,”
Ruhanya said.

The activists were arrested as they held placards denouncing police and the
selective application of law during a demonstration which took place in
front of the High Court where eight MDC activists were due to appear for a
bail hearing.

The matter was postponed to today because prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba failed
to attend court citing family reasons.

The Rohr activists held placards with messages such as: “Stop illegal
detentions, Justice denied is justice delayed, No arbitrary arrests and
Release Cynthia (Manjoro) now, she is innocent.”

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