THE Zimbabwe Republic Police has reportedly begun disciplinary action against its officers recently arrested for assaulting two women from Cowdray Park high-density suburb in Bulawayo on charges of violating COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Six police officers were arrested on Friday for severely assaulting two women with batons on their backs and hips.
This follows an uproar from residents, civic society activists, opposition parties and other stakeholders after the incident was circulated on social media.
The cops were supposed to appear at the Western Commonage Magistrates’ Court, but their case was referred back for further investigation after the complainants’ lawyers raised concern over how the case was being handled.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi told Southern Eye that the law enforcement agency had begun disciplinary proceedings against the accused officers.
“The process is already in motion. Already, they are facing criminal charges. The process is in motion, and that is the position on the ground,” Nyathi said on Wednesday.
According to the complainants’ lawyer, Nqobani Sithole, there was an attempt to shield a senior police officer implicated in the abuse of the women from facing justice.
“We met with senior police officers within the hierarchy and it was agreed a superintendent and above should investigate the matter. The issue that we were raising was whether a senior officer in the police force can be investigated by a junior officer,” Sithole told Southern Eye.
According to the opposition MDC, the women could have been assaulted by soldiers. “The severity of the assaults is not consistent with police training,” MDC women’s assembly provincial secretary, Hallen Tsepiso Mpofu said in a statement.
“We suspect this barbaric attack was carried out by people who are military-trained. The assault by the ‘police officers’ was worsened by the fact that anti-Ndebele slurs were pelted at the women, something common in Matabeleland during the early 1980s Gukurahundi genocide.”