By Tendai Mugabe
Seventy eight police officers were injured, while one was killed in the line of duty during last month’s violent protests instigated by the opposition MDC-Alliance, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and their civil society allies, a detailed report by the Government shows. The statistics reveal that the officers sustained various degrees of injuries as violent thugs set on them in incidents that also included storming of police stations and attacks on officers maintaining order.
The deceased is Constable Alexio Maune (32) from Entumbane, Bulawayo. Attacks on the law enforcement agents, police stations and vehicles and Government installations dispel the false narrative that the protests were peaceful and that participants were unarmed.
Yesterday, Government decried the attacks on law enforcement saying that elsewhere, this practice carried hefty sanctions.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Service Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana said no society could tolerate the bludgeoning to death of a police officer and the attempted murder of 78 others and that Government had taken the unusual step of publishing names of officers who were deliberately targeted.
“These are brave men and women who left their families to keep us safe,” he said.
“Most of the officers who experienced the trauma of these brazen attempts against their lives are currently receiving counselling.”
Details of the report showed that the violent demonstrators were mainly using stones to attack the police officers. In some cases, the hooligans were torching police and service stations in a systematic way that was well calculated at making the country ungovernable.
Harare recorded the highest number of injuries totalling 56 police officers followed with Bulawayo which had 16 injuries. Manicaland and Mashonaland East provinces recorded three injuries apiece bringing the total number of injuries to 78.
In Harare, most of the injuries were recorded at Mbuzi Round About, Mbare, Southlea Park and the satellite town of Chitungwiza.
Isolated cases were recorded in Warren Park, Highfield (Machipisa Shopping Centre) and the Central Business District. The report showed that Constable Timburwa of the Police Support Unit was stoned on the mouth in Epworth and lost a tooth.
Three of his teeth were left shaking and he is currently recovering at home.
Constable Jaravani of ZRP Southlea Park was attacked with stones by the riotous hooligans and was left with a swollen eye while Constable Mutashu of Mbare Police was attacked with stones and left with a deep cut on his head.
In another incident, Constable Chaima of Hatfield was syjamboked by the demonstrators in Chitungwiza and he sustained injuries on his left palm.
In Bulawayo, all the 16 police officers were admitted at the ZRP Ross Camp Clinic after sustaining various injuries.
Constable Masuku stationed at the ZRP Western Commonage was burnt by an unknown object thrown the protestors while Constable Chako from the same camp was injured after he was pushed from a moving vehicle.
At Sekusile Shopping Centre, Constable Chipere was hit by a missile on the collar bone and Constable Ncube was hit by another missile on the head at the same location.
All the three police officers who were victims of the violent protests in Manicaland were injured in Sakubva. The report noted that the three officers, sergeant Machiri and Constables Alidi and Mutizamhepo respectively were stable.
In Mashonaland East all the three police officers were injured at Marondera’s Dombotombo’s police post and were not hospitalised.
No injuries were recorded in the remaining seven provinces according to the report. Mr Mangwana condemned the targeting of police officers.
“In every modern country, deliberate targeting of police officers or other law enforcement agents is considered much more serious than any such crime when committed against a civilian,” said Mr Mangwana.
“This led to the United States passing the Protect and Serve Act of 2018. In this law if you even as much as attempt to assault a law enforcement officer you will face 10 years in prison. In Britain they also passed the Emergency Workers (offences) Act, 2018. This doubled the sentence against any attacks on emergency workers including police officers. Between January the 14th -16th, 2019 Zimbabwe experienced an unprecedented number of targeted attacks against the police even at their own bases.”