Friday, February 23, 2018

Kombis ban turns violent

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AT LEAST one person was killed and two others were seriously injured yesterday evening in Harare when police clashed with the commuting public in the Central Business District.

Two vehicles were reduced to ashes while the Harare Central Police Station was stoned and heavily damaged by a rowdy mob. Windows at the entrance of Zimbabwe Republic police charge office were shattered by missiles as people protested the death of a yet to be identified man under unclear circumstances.

The mayhem followed a directive by Harare City Council banning commuter omnibus operators and on-street vendors from coming to the CBD in an Operation dubbed "Clean up CBD".

There were running battles last night as the crowd threw missiles at the police while the cops fired tear gas canisters.

This resulted in the death of one person.

People who spoke to our Harare Bureau said trouble started when the police approached a Chitungwiza bound kombi that was dropping passengers at Seke road flyover.

The driver is said to have resisted instructions by the police not to drop passengers at the undesignated point.

This resulted in an altercation that exploded into a running battle.

Police fired tear gas canisters to wade off the marauding crowd. "The police fired warning shots to try to disperse the swelling crowd who were already jeering at them," said Mr Marvellous Vhiriri.

The crowd later regrouped and pitched up at ZRP charge office in central Harare where they threw missiles leaving a trail of destruction. The regrouping of the crowd seemed to have caught the police ill-prepared.

They withdrew and called for reinforcement.

When our Harare Bureau arrived at charge office around 2000HRS missiles were strewn all over in the charge office while the body of the deceased still lay on the floor.

Police details could also be seen pushing vehicles that were parked adjacent to charge office in a bid to save them from catching fire.

The bus terminus had been cordoned off.

Police details could be seen patrolling the area around the terminus while intermittently firing tear gas canisters.

Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba's mobile phone was unreachable last night while her deputy Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi was not picking calls.

Harare city council had announced that it was relocating commuter omnibuses and on-street vendors from CBD.

Government has since reversed the council decision to allow for further consultation.