THE 27 members of the Johanne Masowe eChishanu, who three months ago allegedly bashed police officers during a raid at their Budiriro shrine in Harare, have claimed harassment by law enforcements agents each time they visited Harare Central Police Station as part of their bail conditions.
The Vapostori, who were ordered to report every Monday at the Law and Order Section, claimed that some police officers taunted and referred to them as “Boko Haram”, the notorious militant Islamic group linked to the kidnapping, raping and killing young girls, men and women in Nigeria.
The sect members are facing violence charges emanating from the clashes they had with police officers in May this year.
Through their lawyers from Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, the Vapostori accused police officers of treating them as rebels.
Their lawyers have since filed a formal complaint to the police, citing several incidents where their clients were allegedly ill-treated during their routine bail reporting sojourns.
Part of the letter, dated July 29, 2014, reads: “Our clients advise that they have been ‘ill-treated’ by officers from your law and order department whenever they came to report in terms of their bail conditions.
“They advise that they have been called all sort of names, to the extent that they are being likened to Boko Haram, the notorious Nigerian Militant Islamic group, allegedly responsible for kidnapping, raping and killing of young girls, women and men in Nigeria and surrounding states.”
“They complain of being treated like rebels without any justifiable cause for such kind of treatment.
“We are advised that on July 28 2014, when our clients visited your department for their weekly reporting, they were confronted and asked the basis upon which they had made complaints against the police before the courts of law.”
The lawyers also complained that the same police officers who allegedly assaulted the Vapostori following their arrest had been tasked to investigate the matter.
“The very same officers who allegedly assaulted our clients are the ones investigating themselves, putting into doubt the bona fides of any such investigations.
“We also advise that our clients have a right to have their complaints investigated by independent and impartial police officers. The basic tenet of natural justice is that no man should be a judge in his own cause. Our clients know some of the officers who assaulted and these are the same trying to investigate the said assault.”
“We advise that the aforementioned conduct as complained against your officers is a clear abuse of office and criminal in all its forms and manifestations. It should be unreservedly condemned.”
Police chief spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba could not be reached for comment.
At least seven anti-riot police officers, journalists and members of the Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) were seriously injured on May 30 this year when the members of the sect attacked them.
The attack followed ACCZ leader Bishop Johannes Ndanga’s announcement that the church, led by Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani, had been banned from operating in the country for alleged human rights abuses, including allowing fathers to test their daughters’ virginity, a ban Ndanga denied.