By Mary Taruvinga
THE trial of a freelance journalist who landed in the dock for filming scuffles between the police and kombi drivers started last Thursday with the scribe narrating how he was beaten up by the cops.
The journalist is charged with disorderly conduct in public place.
Conrad Gweru, 33, denied the allegations, saying he was supposed to be the complainant since his equipment was damaged as he was attacked by police officers.
He said the cops were intimidated after realising that he was filming the drama and taking pictures during their fight with a kombi driver.
“The accused was on duty covering events in the streets of Harare central business district when he saw three police officers chasing after a commuter omnibus,” said defence lawyer Gift Mtisi.
“A certain commuter omnibus driver disembarked with the conductor leaving it in motion and ran away. The commuter omnibus moved without a driver and caused an accident with a private vehicle.”
Court heard that, instead of attending to the accident which left the private car damaged, the police pursued the driver and his conductor.
They managed to catch up with the conductor and handcuffed him before assaulting and dragging him back to the accident scene.
Gweru said the cops continued to assault the kombi driver using truncheons while waiting for a ZRP van to take them to the police station.
“The accused had been following the events and was taking videos and photographs using his mobile phone,” said the defence attorney.
The journalist added that when one of the officers realised he was capturing the event on camera, they demanded to see the videos and to delete them.
Gweru refused, and this infuriated the police officer who is the complainant in this case.
“He grabbed the accused’s phone and smashed it on the tarmac before removing the memory card,” said the lawyer.
Gweru told court that the officers started to assault him until their vehicle arrived to take them back to the police station.
He said they continued beating him truncheons until they got to the station where they dumped him without any charge.
The scribe further told court that he sustained visible injuries and was given a letter by the officer in charge for him to be treated.
He said the police then released him, but he refused to leave without a charge and also demanded to know the names of officers who damaged his laptop and cell phone.
Court heard the officers apologised and begged him to leave without a charge.
“Accused refused saying he needed legal representation,” said lawyer Mtisi.
“The complainant and his team then turned against the accused blaming him for being difficult, hence they manufactured these false charges as a cover-up to justify why they had to detain the accused in cells.
“This was cooked up to justify the reason for accused’s detention.”
The complainant in the matter is Victor Mawodzwa, a member of the ZRP’s Harare traffic section.
It is the State’s case that on September 26 last year and at around 10am, Mawodzwa was attending an accident scene at the corner of Albion and Harare Streets when Gweru approached him and started taking pictures.
The State alleges Gweru started shouting that police officers must be assaulted. It is alleged Mawodzwa was assisted by his colleagues to arrest Gweru.
Harare magistrate Edwin Marecha remanded Gweru to January 9 for trial continuation.