The National Peace and Reconciliation (NPRC) has reached out to two women from Cowdray Park in Bulawayo who were allegedly abused by members of the police a fortnight ago.
CITE interviewed the two women, Nokuthula and Ntombizodwa Mpofu, who are sisters, and they narrated how they were handcuffed, assaulted, labelled ‘prostitutes’ and tribally insulted by police officers based at the Cowdray Park police base after they had gone to the shops to buy some foodstuffs.
The women said they were harassed and detained overnight without a charge laid against them.
Human rights groups condemned the heavy-handedness of the police and a local civil society consortium, Matabeleland Forum, petitioned the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to investigate the matter.
On Thursday, a team from the NPRC led by Commissioner Leslie Ncube visited the two women, at their home in the high-density suburb.
In a sideline interview with CITE, Commissioner Ncube noted that the conduct of the police on the day in question violated the rights of the citizens whom they are supposed to protect.
“It is disheartening that male officers can beat women on their buttocks and bruise them in the manner they did. The victims have shown us pictures of the bruises they sustained and they have also shown us their medical records,” said Commissioner Ncube.
“It is appalling that law enforcers can use such inflammatory language which seeks to deform someone in terms of ethnicity. We also note that this incident occurred during lockdown – a time where the police were supposed to extensively engage with the citizens and tell them the dos and don’ts of the lockdown conditions.”
Commissioner Ncube reiterated that the matter further points to the issue of corruption within the police as the women explained that although they were fined ZWL$200 each, another ZAR100 was paid but never accounted for on any of the documents from the police.
He said the Commission will keep working on the matter until police officers responsible are brought to book.
Ntombizodwa, one of the victims, while reliving the moments of the fateful day, in between sobs complained that the police were not taking their case seriously to ensure that justice is served.
“We have been thrown back and forth from one police station to the other. They keep telling us that the officer handling our matter is not available and they ask us to come on a different day. To date there has not been any progress,” she sobbed.
“We last went to Luveve police station where we reported our case on Monday and the officer in charge promised to call us on Thursday (today). We still haven’t received any call.
“At one point they said they don’t know who the officers we were talking about were, how is that even possible when we had a docket opened against us and we paid a fine. They should be having the name of the arresting officer. They just don’t want to help us with our case.”
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)