By Tendai Guvamombe
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Human Rights, Peace and Security yesterday embarked on a tour at various Zimbabwe Republic Police institutions in the quest to assess the level of competence regarding ethical conduct of duty amid speculations members of the public suffered police brutality during the violent protests earlier in January.
The touring expedition started off with a briefing at Morris Depot with ZRP Public Relations Unit to find first hand information pertaining conduct of the force during the violent protests before proceeding to Police Staff College and Harare Central Police Station cells.
In the midst of the tour the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chaired by Hon. Senator Oliver Chidhawo observed numerous cracks within the police force which invited more questions than answers to the touring members.
“What worries us most is when the police fail to respond to why they failed to secure public protection during the recent violent protests in January where many people died and property was vandalised. All we hear is that the police force has been involved in brutalising and torturing the public and in many circumstances involved in corrupt deals,” he said.
Senator Chidhawo reiterated that more time was devoted towards crafting of the new constitution during Government of National Unity (GNU) tenure and is now prone to violations due to police misconduct and unethical mode of operations.
“People are eager to know what is happening with the police force because operations of the ZRP are funded by tax payers money. Many years were spent during GNU crafting the new constitution and we cannot allow them to be wasted through corrupt activities,” he added.
Commissioner Martha Mofolo Commandant Morris Depot Training declined to comment on the violent protests. She said said their code of conduct does not condone police officers who mete out brutal assault and torture on members of the public.
“I am not qualified to respond to the violent protests. We were not part of the outside events. We were in here committed to other duties and regarding issues of misconduct, corruption is not condoned in all organisations.”
“Torture is not allowed in accordance with the constitution. We are not immune to prosecution. We are not above the law. We always urge members of the public to report any form of police brutality.“
The touring crew proceeded to Harare Central Station where they observed accused persons locked in an unfavorable environment for human living. Senator Chief Makumbe castigated the move saying accused persons should not be treated as convicts but as human beings.
“The environment of the cells is not conducive for human habitation. When a person is brought to the station accused they must not be treated more like an animal as he/she is not yet a convict.”