The condemnation of Shamva killer cops by Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri should be viewed with scepticism judging by the top cop’s history of not coming out to condemn human rights violations by the police.
This time, Chihuri had to speak about the brutal Shamva murder committed in broad daylight by his subordinates and the subsequent demonstrations by residents in the area. This was always coming and if nothing is done about instilling discipline in the entire force, this might be a sign of worse things to come.
“The incident was uncalled for and far exceeded the call of duty by police officers . . . Discipline was ignored and hooliganism took centre stage,” said Chihuri.
What we find disturbing is that there are many instances the public has cited where the police have ignored discipline and displayed behaviour worse than that of hooligans. Ironically, Chihuri has never condemned other egregious excesses by cops.
The nation no longer has confidence in ever seeing a disciplined police force under the present set-up where their leader has openly declared allegiance to one political party — Zanu PF — resulting in the selective application of the law on partisan grounds.
Zimbabweans no longer respect, but fear the police, for the outcome of an encounter with a cop is now as unpredictable as the weather. We have a police force which still tortures suspects to extract confessions. The police is always ready to apply excessive force to break up peaceful demonstrations and when controlling crowds.
We have had instances where hooligan cops have smashed vehicle windscreens with total impunity.
The police force earned the “indisciplined” and “hooliganism” labels in the eyes of the majority long before Chihuri openly admitted to the fact.
Our police force hardly uses modern, civilised methods of policing; they have been accused of using excessive brute force against defenceless and innocent civilians. No investigations are done against police brutality and human rights abuses.
This gets worse during election periods when the police have openly brutalised innocent civilians on behalf of Zanu PF with the blessing of Chihuri, a self-confessed Zanu PF backer, at the helm.
What is the Commissioner-General’s view on the cops who beat up MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Highfield in 2007?
There is very little professionalism left in the force. The cops, as people have always said openly, are now notorious for seeking bribes or taking the law into their own hands as the killer cops did in Shamva — only this time they sold away the game forcing a reluctant confession from their boss.
Chihuri must understand that discipline in the police force starts at the top because details on the ground often follow a clear command structure. If he openly sides with one political party and turns a blind eye on human rights abuses, what does he expect from his subordinates? And, of course, the top cop misses the irony of his own statements when in one breath he condemns the killer cops and defends the irrational roadblocks against the sentiments of the majority. When will he condemn them?