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Police brutalise villagers


Police in Lupane last Sunday allegedly tortured two attempted murder suspects and brutalised their relatives and fellow villagers, attacking them with baton sticks and forcing them to eat raw caterpillars in a case that has prompted a local magistrate to order an investigation into the matter.

The law enforcement agents were looking for suspects in a case of attempted murder and allegedly resorted to torturing their relatives and other villagers, including babies and elderly women, in a bid to extract information from them on the whereabouts of the suspects.

The shocking revelations of alleged police brutality came to light when the suspects, Butholezwe Mpofu (30) and his brother, a 17-year old juvenile, appeared before Lupane magistrate Takudzwa Gwazemba facing attempted murder charges.

The court heard that when the policemen arrived at Ndimimbili village in Lupane, they accused the mother of the suspects, Gqiza Ndlovu, fellow villagers and passersby of hiding the suspects before unleashing terror on the village.

“On Sunday January 22, a child was sent to call me when I was away from home saying police wanted to see me,” Ndlovu told the court.

“I rushed home and upon arrival I found the police had also summoned a woman who had been on her way from church. They had stopped her and called her to my homestead where they were harassing her. There was also a gentleman who was passing by and police called him and ordered him to roll on the wet ground. They were all being accused of hiding my sons.

“There was a bucket full of caterpillars (amacimbi) at home.

“Everyone was forced to eat them and an old woman who has no teeth was also forced to do the same. When she failed to chew them, she was severely beaten as well.

“Members of the Apostolic Church who were coming from church were also intercepted by the police who forced them to join in the eating of the raw macimbi.”
Ndlovu told the court that the Apostolic Church members told the police that their church doctrines did not allow them to even touch, let alone eat macimbi, but police forced them to eat the worms.

She said one of the policemen took out a box of matches and attempted to burn one of her huts at the homestead but he failed due to wet weather.

It was alleged in court that the police also ordered Ndlovu to reveal which political party she voted for during the March 2008 elections.

The prosecutor in the case, Tawanda Tsatsa, was apparently so shocked by the police brutality he asked the court that the allegations be investigated.

Magistrate Gwazemba agreed and ordered immediate investigations whose results should be brought to the court before the next hearing date on February 9.

The accused brothers were arrested for allegedly
assaulting one Tommy Ndlovu whom they accused of stealing their cow.

The accused allegedly axed Ndlovu in the head. They are facing attempted murder charges.

Matabeleland North police acting spokesperson Eglon Nkala said yesterday that he had not yet received the order to launch an investigation into the alleged police brutality.

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