The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) is disturbed by increasing reports of corruption and brutality perpetrated by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) as they endeavor to maintain law and order in the country. Whilst ACT-SA has no issues whatsoever with the maintenance of law and order in the country because of health concerns, it is however gravely concerned with reports from members of the public who are being made to pay bribes in exchange for their freedom after being arrested or to operate their businesses outside the gazetted timelines. To coerce suspects to pay bribes, these police officers threaten that all those refusing to comply will be held in custody for the 21 days lockdown. Reports of corruption have been received in Zhombe, Kwekwe which could serve as a microcosm of the situation obtaining countrywide. Furthermore, members of the public doing their shopping in the City of Kwekwe during the gazetted times were being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. For instance on the 2nd of April 2020, a team of police officers patrolling between PG Complex and Pick n Pay forced people to sit on the floor regardless of having given genuine reasons on why they were in town. Mr. Obert Chinhamo, the ACT-SA Regional Director who drove to town around 9:00 a.m was one of the victims at the same spot.
“I visited OK Supermarket to replenish my food supplies. However, I couldn’t find Dettol soap at OK and went to Pick n Pay. On my way back I had planned to visit a local pharmacy to buy medication. But on my way to Pick n Pay, I was just told to sit down by a male police officer who had a gun. One of the police officers instructed me and others to go home. I had no choice but abandon the shopping including purchasing my medical. I think this way of policing is bad. I will take us time to transition from a police force to a police service.” He complains.
Mr. Munyaradzi Bidi of ACT-SA complained that reports of corruption and police brutality were overwhelming.
“ACT-SA is inundated with reports of corruption and torture of members of the public. I don’t know the instructions that police officers have been given but any sane manager within the police service is not expected to have given instructions to solicit bribes. What is happening during this period of the lockdown is shocking. Apart from reports of corruption, we are also receiving reports of police brutality which we hope that human rights organizations in Zimbabwe will take up. For instance, in the Mbizo township some of the police officers on patrol were spotted drinking alcohol. One of the drunk officers assaulted a member of the public. After the assault thereof, the victim’s attempts to report at Mbizo Police Station failed since the same officer who assaulted him is from the same police station.” He says.
To this end, ACT-SA is urging relevant authorities to take steps to ensure that all those responsible for maintaining law and order shun corruption and police brutality during the lockdown period made to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Furthermore, a doze of customer handling or public relations training is needed during this period of time.
Source: Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA)