Matabeleland civic groups demand probe into ‘Gukurahundi style’ policing by ZRP

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE Matabeleland Collective has called on government to set up an independent commission to investigate “Gukurahundi style” policing in Bulawayo by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

The coalition of Matabeleland based civil society organisations accuses police of heavy handedness, discriminatory policing based on tribal lines within the city.

Six police officers were on Friday last week arrested for allegedly assaulting two Bulawayo sisters for hours with batons on their backs, hips, and legs.

The officers were accusing the siblings of violating the on-going national lockdown.

The perpetrators allegedly uttered anti-Ndebele slurs while attacking the victims.

“Matabeleland Collective renew their request for an investigation into policing in Bulawayo especially in light of the manner in which the police use Gukurahundi style formats to do their work including tribal hatred targeting women and subjecting them to gender insensitive insults.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police cannot continue to stir up trauma by this form of policing in a region still living the pain of Gukurahundi 40 years later,” said the groups in a Wednesday statement.

The civic organisations implored the ministers of Justice and Home Affairs to appoint a commission of enquiry to investigate the alleged biased policing.

“MC call on government through the appointed Ministries to appoint a commission of enquiry with some independent actions as part of it and complete the investigation within three months and publish findings within one month of submitting the draft report.

“The scope of the investigation should be policing abuse of office and neglect of their service mandate to serve and protect,” the groups said.

The civic organisations also expressed concern over the high number of Bulawayo residents arrested during the current COVID-19 lockdown and the infamous January 2019 fuel hike protests.

According to the police, a total number of 25 000 people were arrested countrywide during the COVID-19 lockdown with Bulawayo recording the highest number, at 5 914.

“MC raises alarm that there is a high possibility of police abuse of office especially during times of conflict like this COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the January 2019 Shut Down in Bulawayo, there was alarmingly high number of arrests (500 adults and countless children) and hooliganism causing widespread looting throughout the city.

“MC noted that the police officers and soldiers were accused of encouraging looting and also that there was a high influx of people from outside the city who were leading criminal activities.

“MC called on the government to investigate this, but no investigation was ever convened,” added the organisations.