HomeOpinion & AnalysisPolice losing power, authority

Police losing power, authority

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Yesterday we carried on our front page a picture of a spirit medium and her followers sitting on the roadside after being evicted by police from a homestead in Mazowe.

NewsDay Comment

What was disturbing about this picture was a policeman who was sitting on the grass together with followers of the spirit medium, as he appeared to confer with the medium and her followers.

The policeman, apparently an assistant inspector, had taken off his shoes and his service cap was nowhere in sight. He had apparently been reduced by the spirit medium to a subservient position, sitting on the grass and clapping his hands like a cult loyalist.

Traditionalists would forgive the cop for this acquiescent behaviour on the pretext that the only way to getting an audience from a spirit medium is by kowtowing and acceding to the demands of the spiritualist.

This view does not wash because this is not the first time we have seen cops – who are supposed to be custodians of the law – being shorn of their authority by self-styled spirit mediums and con artists.

The picture of the cop conjures memories of how Deputy Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, members of the Cabinet and senior government officials were duped by a common criminal from Chinhoyi, Rotina Mavhunga, who had claimed she could extract pure diesel from a rock.

We recall the picture of a barefooted Matanga and his entourage paying homage to Mavhunga, who was eventually arrested and convicted on charges of defrauding the State and misrepresenting to government officials that diesel was oozing from a rock.

This was a major blemish on the integrity of our police force. Incidents like the one captured in the Mazowe picture do not do much to rebuild that diminishing integrity.

It is imperative to remind the cop that the police uniform actually psychologically influences how officers are perceived by the public. Therefore, the crisp uniform of the police officer conveys power and authority.

The uniform conveys the power and authority of the person wearing it. However, an incomplete uniform or fatigues worn carelessly subtract that authority.

This is the tragedy of our police force. There have been accusations, and rightly so, that our police force has selectively applied the law. This was being denied strenuously by police spokesperson Charity Charamba, who this week said police did not “discriminate on the basis of who you are”.

Her statement is contestable as long as Joseph Mwale and Kainos “Kitsiyatota” Zimunya continue to walk free despite the courts ruling that they should be arrested for petrol-bombing MDC activists in 2000. We will always contend that cops who are prepared to remove their shoes and caps and kowtow to con-artists posing as spiritual leaders can easily drop their guard and dance to the tune of powerful political forces.

How many other people is this police assistant inspector prepared to talk to with his shoes off while on duty?

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