Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Police grilled over Harare kombi ban mayhem shootings

Several police officers at Harare Central Police Station have been questioned over the death of two people in the capital on Thursday last week following the mayhem occasioned by Harare City Council's decision to ban commuter omnibuses from the central business district (CBD).

Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga recently directed a team of expert investigators to establish the circumstances surrounding the fatal shootings.

Police sources on Monday said the team of officers who were involved in the clashes were questioned as part of the ongoing investigations.

"Several officers have since been questioned in connection with the case, but no arrests have been made," said a senior police officer. "Investigations are still continuing and we are likely to have the results anytime this week."

Attempts to get a comment from police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba were fruitless.

Last Thursday, seven people, including three police officers, were injured in skirmishes in the capital.

On Friday, Commissioner-General Matanga apologised for the incident and sent condolence messages to families of the deceased.

He told a press conference that police would investigate the matter to its logical conclusion.

Comm-Gen Matanga's sentiments followed a meeting he had with President Mnangagwa and Home Affairs Minister Dr Obert Mpofu.

At the meeting, President Mnangagwa said such disturbances should not happen again.

Comm-Gen Matanga said a team of investigators had been set up to look into the matter.

"From the onset, let me categorically state that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is seized with this matter and I have since directed a team of expert investigators to extensively establish the cause, what transpired, who was responsible and action will be taken," he said.

"These investigators will leave no stone unturned. Perpetrators will be brought to book and there are no sacred cows. Violence in whatever form is not tolerated."

Comm-Gen Matanga said the clashes were between the police and members of the public.

It was a culmination of an operation code-named "Clean-Up Harare Central Business District", spearheaded by the City of Harare.

Comm-Gen Matanga said the police and other security agencies were assisting the Harare City Council to decongest the CBD of commuter omnibuses and pirate taxis.

Meanwhile, a Harare magistrate yesterday granted bail to five people who are alleged to be part of a rowdy mob which stoned and heavily damaged Harare Central Police Station when police clashed with commuters last week.

Gibson Kataruware (38), Denis Kondo (29), Prince Beni (23), Evans Agogo and Emmanuel Muzariri (22) are facing public violence charges.

The gang members successfully applied for bail on Monday before Ms Annia Ndiraya, who ruled that the State failed to provide compelling reasons to justify their incarceration.

She then released them on $50 bail each.

As part of their bail conditions, they were ordered not to interfere with witnesses and to continue residing at their given addresses until the matter is finalised.

Through their lawyer Mr Bothwell Ndlovu, the gang in their bail application, argued that police officers should be the ones in the dock, adding that their arrest was a cover-up of the ineptitude of the law enforcement agents.

Mr Ndlovu accused the prosecution of ignoring the police's conduct, which led to loss of lives and injuries during the skirmishes.

It is the State's case that on February 23, Constables Makumire, Mhundwa, Mpofu and Chisango were on duty at Harare Central Police Station manning the pedestrians' gate when the gang and their accomplices, who are still at large, gathered at the station singing and trying to force their way in.

It was alleged that they also influenced passers-by to join in the melee.

Agogo, the State alleged, forced his way into the station, but was barred from entering the charge office.

He is said to have picked stones and threw them at police officers, thereby shattering windows at the charge office's main entrance.

He was apprehended, but his accomplices continued to throw stones into the offices and damaged a parked Land Rover Defender, which belonged to the Police Reaction Group.