Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe police commit murder in broad daylight and in front of witnesses

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On Sunday July 10 an elderly lady died in Bulawayo's Gwabalanda high-density suburb. Her death was directly attributable to an act of wanton violence of a police officer or - as one should say these days - by a person wearing the uniform of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). The incident was observed by a number of witnesses who, not having any faith in the ZRP to carry out a proper investigation and bring the perpetrator to justice, wish to report it first, through us, to the national and international media. This was a savage and unprovoked act committed against an innocent and defenceless bystander. It certainly qualifies as murder, and should be treated as such.

The incident occurred during the demolition of houses by the "police" in Gwabalanda. About 60 uniformed ZRP members, believed to have come from the Luveve Police Station, had descended on the suburb and were going about their now routine work of demolishing habitable dwellings on the pretext the structures are "illegal". Our informant, whose name is known to us but whose identity must be protected for fear of reprisals from the "police", said the men set about their work of destruction with gusto. They were armed with pick axes and other instruments suitable for the purpose. Our informant (let's call him Kofi) watched in disbelief as Mugabe's storm troops completely destroyed a house belonging to someone he knew who now resides in South Africa. The house in question had been built as long ago as 1957. In fact, Kofi believes it was one of the original, colonial-style houses in this area. (So much for it being an "illegal" structure).

Close by, on plot 8687, was a 7-bedroomed house, to which the uniformed thugs (a purely descriptive term which avoids any risk of inaccurate terminology) next turned their attention. As they set to work demolishing the old house an elderly woman, whose age Kofi estimates at about 60 years, was watching in silence from a distance. One of the uniformed thugs confronted the woman. In an arrogant manner he demanded to know: "Why are you standing there?" When the woman did not answer immediately he struck her across the chest with a garden fork. The woman collapsed and, as it later transpired, she died on the spot. Her assailant conferred with his comrades and in due course a vehicle appeared to take the body away.

Kofi and others who observed the spectacle could hardly believe their eyes. This was murder in broad daylight, the murderer being either a regular member of the ZRP or at least a thug dressed in the uniform of that once-professional body responsible for law enforcement - and so dressed with ZRP's active connivance. There are witnesses who - subject to certain minimal requirements for their own safety - are willing to tell their story. Here is a case, if ever there was one, waiting for an investigative journalist possessing both courage and integrity, to pursue. Let justice be done, with or without the cooperation of Mugabe's politicized police force.