Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) activists Tuesday held demonstrations outside Bulawayo police headquarters accusing the law enforcement agents of applying the law selectively.
The pressure group was demanding urgent reform of the police force. Demonstrations started at the Bulawayo magistrates’ court.
Addressing over 500 demonstrators, Woza leader Jenni Williams said the pressure group was against the partisan manner in which the police were conducting their duties.
“We demand that the Home Affairs co-ministers and Commissioner-General of police ensure that the force stops behaving in a partisan manner.
Police should stop indiscriminate arrests,” Williams said.
Surprisingly, the police allowed the demonstration to go on uninterrupted.
The call for an end to the indiscriminate arrest of citizens follows a crackdown by Bulawayo police on residents beginning last Saturday night.
Since then police have reportedly been indiscriminately beating and arresting people on charges of loitering for the purposes of planning to commit crime.
About 300 residents were reportedly detained at the weekend at various police stations but were later released.
The crackdown followed the fatal shooting on Friday night of Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chatikobo at a pub by suspected armed robbers.
Police said the crackdown was aimed at weeding out armed criminals.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri on Monday warned the armed robbers that police would be tough on robbers and urged the culprits behind the fatal shooting to surrender themselves to the police.
“The arm of the law is swifter than the arm of the traitor. And, as for the criminals, they can run but they can’t hide. It’s wise for them to come up and surrender themselves,” Chihuri said.
Said Williams: “We want the urgent reform of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. We want a police service and not a police force. We want the police to adhere to the correct procedures of arrest and treatment of suspects in detention.”
Reform of the country’s police force is one of the key terms of a power-sharing deal signed between President Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF, MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara of the MDC-M party.
The police force stands accused of partisanship and ignoring alleged crimes committed by Zanu PF supporters, but indiscriminately cracking down on MDC and civic society activists.