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From George Maponga in MASVINGO
A JUNIOR policeman at Chinyika Police Station in Nyamandi communal lands, Gutu, has torched a storm after he allegedly tortured and chained a woman suspected to have been part of a group of villagers that destroyed a church built on wetlands to a fence on Sunday morning.
Mrs Anna Masukangoto (age unknown) of Ngundu Village allegedly spent almost seven hours while chained to a fence with handcuffs by a policeman only identified as Constable A Dzumano.
Mrs Masukangoto was allegedly unchained and set free by the officer around 2pm.
The alleged ill-treatment of Mrs Masukangoto has caused consternation among villagers in Nyamandi, amid growing calls for the cop in question to face charges of torture.
Pictures of a chained Mrs Masukangoto have gone viral on the Internet.
However, chief police national spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday professed ignorance over the matter.
“I have not heard about that story, maybe I will be informed about it later. At the moment I know nothing,’’ she said.
However, in a video clip in our possession, Mrs Masukangoto is recorded narrating her ordeal at the hands of police officers from Chinyika base.
She claimed in the video to have been chained to a fence after she resisted to be force-marched to the home of a teacher at Nyamandi High School, believed to be the leader of Morning Glory Church, that had built a church on wetlands before villagers in the area, including Mrs Masukangoto teamed up and demolished it.
It is not clear why police targeted Mrs Masukangoto for arrest yet the church was allegedly demolished by all the villagers in Ngundu.
“The police officers approached me when I was in my maize field fetching some maize cobs and pulled out handcuffs to arrest me and when I asked why they were doing that, they said I was responsible for destroying the church (built on wetlands) in the village,’’ she is heard saying in the video.
“I asked them why they were targeting me alone yet the church in question was destroyed by all the villagers in the area and the cops said I was supposed to reveal the identity of the other alleged perpetrators,’’ Mrs Masukangoto added.
She added that she wrestled with the cops as they tried to handcuff her before allegedly overpowering her and dragging her.
“I refused to be taken to Nyamandi High School, where they wanted to take me and they started dragging me, even touching me on sensitive areas, something which I do not know whether or not police are allowed to do when arresting a suspect,’’ she said.
Mrs Masukangoto alleged that the cops dragged her on the ground for five metres and chained her to a fence, bragging that they wanted to discipline her for resisting arrest.
Other villagers allegedly arrived at the fence and kept vigil after the police officers had left.
Mrs Masukangoto alleged that the cops returned around 2pm and freed her.
Ngundu Village committee member Mr Cassian Jaravaza confirmed the incident.
“The victim (Mrs Masukangoto) teamed up with other villagers in our area and destroyed a Morning Glory Church building that had been built on wetlands, which were reserved for grazing,’’ he said.
“I do not know why the police targeted her but we hear they suspected that she was the ringleader and one of the two policemen by the name Dzumano chained her to the fence from around 7am in the morning and freed her after 2pm,’’ said Mr Jaravaza.
He said action should be taken against the police officer in question as what he did tarnished the good image of the police.
Zimrights director Mr Okay Machisa said his organisation would not rest until action was taken against the police officer.
“It is very clear that our laws and Constitution do not tolerate torture, the police officer in question needs to face the law because what he did is criminal,’’ he said.
“During the recent Universal Periodic Review meeting held in Geneva, (Switzerland), the Vice President Emmerson Mnangangwa, who attended the meeting, was very clear and categorical that Zimbabwe does not condone torture,’’ said Mr Machisa.
“Such behaviour (by the police officer) is unacceptable and we will leave no stone unturned in making sure the officer faces the law,’’ added Mr Machisa.