By Leopold Munhende
POLICE have made astonishing claims one of the 210 helmets reportedly recovered from a private Harare building next to MDC headquarters belonged to a junior officer who was killed by alleged opposition supporters 2016.
Police on Sunday reported they had found a cache of 284 helmets belonging to the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Harare Municipal police.
The anti-riot head gear was reportedly found in the basement of Robinson House, one of the skyscrapers dominating the Harare CBD landscape.
The said discovery of the helmets saw police deploy heavily in the city centre during the week with dozens more stationed right by the entrance of Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House, the main opposition’s national headquarters.
But in a dramatic twist to the saga, Nyathi told journalists Friday the police officer killed during city skirmishes in 2016 lost his helmet which has been positively identified among those just recovered.
“Police has established that one of the recovered helmets belonged to a police officer who was murdered in Harare in 2016 during the process of politically motivated violence,” said Nyathi.
Although the senior police officer did not share more information on the slain officer, one Constable Talkmore Phiri was killed during a protest in 2016 allegedly by an MDC youth leader Barnabas Mwanaka.
The helmets discovered early in the week included 46 municipal police helmets.
This followed skirmishes between police and youths who often spend the day milling along Harare’s Angwa Street, which links Robinson House and the MDC HQ.
The Sunday clashes between police and the youths, it is said, saw 11 of them flee to seek refuge inside the Robinson House basement where they were eventually flashed out. The youths are set to appear in court for assault, public violence and theft on 21 October.
Police say 11 vehicles were also found in the basement amid suspicion the place could be a lair for criminals operating within the Harare CBD.
Nyathi added, “The police also recovered 11 vehicles, some of which had no registration plates on them.
“One of the vehicles was damaged on the right front fender indicating it had crashed against a pillar in the basement.
“Police are investigating the possibility of whether the vehicles recovered in the basement were used in the perpetration of politically motivated violence or other crimes.”
Nyathi denied claims their action was a ploy to victimise MDC or meant to justify future punitive action against the opposition party.
MDC spokespersons said during the week police were desperate to create grounds for their routine clampdown on the country’s most popular opposition party and its leaders.