Police shoot, injure fleeing vendor

POLICE in Chitungwiza shot and seriously injured an unarmed grocery vendor after a raid at Jambanja shopping centre in Seke on Sunday, where traders were selling their wares.

BY MOSES MATENGA

Emotions ran high as civilians bayed for the “trigger-happy” officer’s blood as the police allegedly fired straight at the fleeing vendors.

The unnamed police officer reportedly dumped the wounded 28-year-old father of one, Tinashe Zharare, at a private hospital and fled for safety to the nearby police station.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident.

“We are investigating that incident, but it is unfortunate there are people purporting to speak on behalf of police on that incident. They are not even aware that there are allegations of drug abuse there and there is a drug box we are pursuing that disappeared in the vehicle. Now it is sad; we have people who appear to know what happened on the ground. The shooting incident is unfortunate, but people must wait for the investigation,” he said.

He said there were people selling suspicious tablets at the shopping centre, hence the police intervention after a tip-off.

Zharare’s brother Cedric said there were fears his brother’s leg could be amputated as he was seriously injured while driving away from the populous shopping centre.

“Police raided the shopping centre and my brother was parked there selling groceries, the moment he drove off, they started shooting at the car (a Toyota Vitz) and shot through the door. He stopped after being injured and the one who shot at him took him to the nearby clinic and dumped him,” he said.

“The people at the clinic said they could not attend to him and was driven by others to Chitungwiza Hospital where he was again dumped. His condition is serious and the doctors are saying they are trying and if they fail they will have to amputate the leg.”

Chitungwiza South legislator Maxwell Mavhunga (MDC Alliance) said emotions were high in the dormitory town following the incident and that the incident confirmed that police were now resorting to use of excessive force.

“I am very disturbed because these people had market stalls at Jambanja centre and their stalls were destroyed during the early days of COVID-19. They were now selling from their vehicles, they were unarmed civilians trying to eke out an honest living from informal trade because everything else is closed,” Mavhunga said.

“For police to come and shoot at unarmed civilians who were not violent is disturbing. A police officer just jumped out of his vehicle to shoot at a fleeing vendor and this confirms that there is excessive use of police force in this country and the levels are now unimaginable. Why shoot at a fleeing unarmed civilian and to make matters worse, without warning shots?”

Mavhunga added: “This kind of thing only raises emotions, especially in these days where people don’t have anything to survive on. Emotions are boiling right now and sooner or later we may not be able to contain them. People were baying for the police officer’s blood and had it not been for our intervention, we could have had problems because they were not even afraid of police with guns. It is now a volatile situation in Chitungwiza and at some point it will trigger something more serious.”

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said the police action was “unnecessary and unconstitutional”.

“The Constitution is clear on the procedures to be taken when making an arrest. Cases of police firing live bullets at unarmed civilians are on the rise, and it is worrying,” the ZPP statement read.

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