The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage has ordered police not to smash windscreens of vehicles saying it tarnishes the reputation of the law enforcement agency.
Police officers have been smashing windscreens of illegally operating commuter omnibuses, which are not part of the government’s Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) franchise.
Transport operators were unhappy and appealed to the police to rather arrest drivers and conductors caught violating the law than to destroy their vehicles.
Another incident that has motivated the order by the Home Affairs ministry happened on January 4, 2021 after a police officer in Harare, smashed a window of a commuter omnibus and its fragments fell on a woman and her baby, along Sam Nujoma Street (formerly Second Street).
However, social media went abuzz with allegations that the police officer allegedly fatally struck the baby strapped on the mother`s back with a baton.
Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Kazembe Kazembe, said the government did not allow the smashing of vehicle windscreens.
“My ministry does not condone the smashing of vehicle windscreens or windows by police officers. The Commissioner General of Police (Godwin Matanga) has assured me that this message will be cascaded to all Police Commanders for the conscientisation of their members,” he said in a statement.
The minister also condemned police officers who engaged in acts of misconduct that destroyed the reputation of their service.
“My Ministry strongly condemns acts of misconduct by police officers which tarnish the image of the Government and the Police in particular. The widely circulated social media clip of a police officer who allegedly struck a baby with a baton stick in Harare on January 4, 2021 is a cause for concern,” Kazembe said.
Kazembe said investigations conducted by the Commissioner General of Police revealed the police officers were trying to arrest a kombi crew which was picking passengers at an undesignated point and contravening Covid-19 regulations.
“The child and mother were hit by fragments of the smashed windscreen and taken to West End Clinic where medical experts established that the child had no injuries and the life was not in danger,” said the minister.
“I have directed the Commissioner General of Police to take stern action against these and any other errant police officers,” he said and added that on the other hand, urged social media activists to be responsible and verify facts before jumping to conclusions.
“A case in point is that the said officer who was alleged to have hit the child and the mother did not hit them at all, neither did the child die.”
In November, the Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) confronted the Home Affairs minister and Commissioner General of Police describing the smashing of windscreens as ‘madness’, adding it lacked professionalism and that it should stop.
MRP also copied their letter to Transport minister, Joel Bigge Matiza and President Emmerson Mnangagwa.