The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has said members of the security forces are not above the law and urged victims of brutality to report to the police for justice to take its course.
By Farai Matiashe
Hundreds of people have reportedly been brutalised by soldiers and police officers during the crackdown on recent protests, while several women also revealed falling victim to rape.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, police spokesperson Commissioner Charity Charamba said any abuse should be reported to the law enforcement agents, with a view to arresting perpetrators and gathering evidence to initiate interventions so that victims receive medical care.
“Without being discriminatory, we are alive to the fact that women and children suffer the brunt of any conflict the world over, hence our call for all those who might have been affected to come forth. We reiterate that all cases reported to us will be handled in a professional manner which accords victims full protection of the law and privacy,” she said.
Charamba said police did not condone any unlawful conduct by security forces.
She said women who were living in fear of stigma or mistrust should be bold enough to approach the police.
“Some victims may be scared to report for one reason or the other. It might be fear of reprisals, stigma or mistrust but we are saying if such heinous acts are allowed to go unresolved, they have lasting traumatic implications on the victims,” Charamba said.
“The law is clear; for each and every offence, there should be redress or a penalty, hence our passionate appeal to members of the public to report.”
Musasa Project director Netty Musanhu said there was need for women to report any abuse against them and her organisation stood ready to facilitate and assist the victims.
“It should never be allowed to happen again. We have had a lot of cases of gender-based violence in this country and if we allow the situation in every chaos for women to be violated and it goes unnoticed or unreported, we are creating a society that is characterised by chaos,” she said.
Adult Rape Clinic manager Rudo Mashingaidze said there was need for rape victims to come forward and get assisted with pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease interventions.
Over a dozen women in Harare last week claimed they were raped by members of the security forces and in many cases without protection, sometimes in the presence of their families, as punishment for participating in the recent mass protests.
Police have arrested and suspended a police officer who was filmed assaulting a handcuffed civilian along Chiremba Road in Epworth.
They are also now looking for other members of the security services involved in the attack of civilians during the recent crackdown on opposition supporters.
Charamba said one Constable Makumire had been arrested for assault and described him as one of the “rogue elements” within the security services as he committed the offence while on suspension for theft.
“Constable Makumire is seen in the video clad in civilian attire with a satchel strapped on his back, assaulting the victim. The member was not on official duty during the time of the offence as he is on suspension,” she said.
“Earlier reports had indicated that the video was shot in 2016. However, upon further clarification from (the) investigating team it was established that the video was actually shot on Saturday 26 January, 2019. Investigations are widening to account for the remaining members of the security services captured in the video.”