Pressure mounts on Matanga over police use of spikes 

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (The Forum) says the police should take the blame for causing a road accident which claimed four lives in Mutare two days ago and end the use of spikes.

The Forum is a coalition of 22 human rights NGOs in Zimbabwe, wrote to the police boss Godwin Matanga asking him to issue a public statement condemning the use of spikes.

Metal spikes are increasingly being used to impede or stop vehicles believed to be breaking road regulations in most parts of the country.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is trying to distance itself from the Mutare scandal, blaming the fatality on a tyre burst.

“We are appalled by this routine in cases like these, where ZRP  assures the public that investigations will be made, but the outcome of these investigations are kept away from the public, who will remain oblivious to whether the responsible officers were made to account for their actions,” the forum.

“We cannot  overemphasise the use of spikes amounts to excessive use of force and violates the right to personal security as provided for in section 52 of the constitution.”

“The ZRP is called upon to set an example of measured, rational, reasonable and proportionate responses to anti-social conduct and should never be seen to condone, let alone promote, excessive violence against transgressors. Human life is inestimable, and it is a value that the police must uphold by example,” it said.

The Forum also said the conduct is socially undesirable and impermissible.

“Despite assurance to the nation by the minister of Home affairs, Honourable Kazembe Kazembe, on January 4 that the use of spikes and smashing of windscreens contradicted expected government norms and that he assured to take stern action against responsible officers, there is an increase of these cases without holding responsible officers accountable.”

The organisation also demanded that police should issue a public statement within 24 hours after receipt of their letter assuring members of the public that the use of spikes and smashing of widescreens on moving motor vehicles is illegal and unconstitutional.

They also requested that Matanga should furnish them with a written undertaking that officers who threw spikes on a moving vehicle in Mutare will be charged with criminal offences.

The wanton use of spikes by police officers has resulted in a surge in traffic accidents.

The use of spikes has worsened conflict between police officers and society as police officers have continued to cause mayhem with the use of spikes with the blessing of the courts.