BY BLESSED MHLANGA
LAWYERS yesterday held a peaceful demonstration against police brutality before handing a petition to Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga.
Incensed by what they called an increase in State-sponsored violence and police impunity against accused persons, ordinary citizens and lawyers, close to 50 lawyers, led by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), took to the streets clad in their robes and jabots to express displeasure.
Handing over the petition to national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, who was standing in for Matanga, Grace Wagoneka demanded that police stop wanton brutality.
“We are demanding an end in police brutality, it’s unconstitutional and it cannot be entertained,” she said.
“We want it to end now. We are also demanding that police stop being an obstacle to us as legal practitioners when we are doing our work. When we visit our clients, who will be in police cells sometimes we are denied access to our clients. We want an end to that.”
Another lawyer, Mutsa Chinhamo, said police lacked basic understanding of the law and, therefore, were not enforcing the law, but just basically standing as agents of impunity.
“It’s an issue of ignorance of the law by the police. The police are not enforcing the law, they are just being brutal,” Chinhamo said.
“They are just showing impunity and do not care. They are abusing their powers and not upholding the Constitution. The Constitution should be a document that holds the country together.”
The lawyers in their petition want Kazembe to investigate all reports of police brutality, including the latest attack on Doug Coltart, who was allegedly beaten up by six police officers in full riot gear at Harare Central Police Station.
They are also demanding that an independent complaints commission against the police and army be set up in line with sections of the Constitution.
Lawyers sang and danced on the streets of Harare carrying banners denouncing the police.