Domboshaba Villagers in Matobo District, Saturday, confronted the police demanding an apology for the abuse they suffered at the anti-riot police who were deployed to quell a potential scuffle after the latter evicted some miners who had invaded a protected area.
In n meeting with the villagers, Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele said investigations into the alleged police brutality have been opened and urged members of the community to file official statements in order to identify the perpetrators.
The meeting was called to solve a dispute between the miners belonging to the Mazinahue Syndicate and the villagers.
The meeting was attended by Matobo District Development Coordinator (DDC) Obey Chaputsira, Matobo North MP Edgar Moyo, Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele who was accompanied by the officer in charge of Matobo -Inspector Ndlovu, Matobo Rural District Council Chief Executive Officer Elvis Sibanda and officials from the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ).
But the villagers, in a no nonsense mood, asked how they could report to the same individuals who assaulted and allegedly threatened to shoot them.
When Chief Insp. Ndebele was called to address the gathering, the locals interjected, asking how they could listen to a member of the police force that had brutalised them.
“Tell us who beat up people here? Is it goblins since police said they didn’t know people were beaten badly here in this area. Look at the wounds people have, who caused them?” asked Pie Ncube.
The locals demanded the police to apologise and claimed the evicted miners vowed to commit another Gukurahundi, referring to the 1980s state sponsored genocide that killed over 20 000 people in Matabeleland and Midlands.
As tempers flared during the meeting, the MP intervened asking the villagers to give Chief Inspector Ndebele an opportunity to speak.
“My presence here represents the entirety of the Zimbabwe Republic Force and I am here to ease the tension. I plead with you to think rationally not emotionally because we must co-exist otherwise criminals would gain an advantage,” he said.
Chief Insp. Ndebele admitted there were bad apples within the police but urged villagers to allow the police to handle the matter.
“Police are not perfect just like you in your families. Assault is a criminal offense and investigations are ongoing. We cannot paint the whole police service by actions of a few,” he said.
“Let’s allow justice to take its course. Like any other culprits, they will be identified and prosecuted if found guilty.”
Another villager, Abel Dube asked how locals would be able to identify the police culprits when they came “armed, carrying guns to attack innocent civilians when it was not a DRC war situation.”
One of the victims, Sduduzile Ndlovu, told CITE she had three children to look after but would be unable to due to injuries inflicted on her by the police.
The police spokesperson encouraged locals to approach the Matobo Police Station or any other station to make their reports and also sue for damages.
“Any person who feels they were ill-treated they can go to the Officer in Charge and file their reports, this is the best way to volunteer your statement rather than being judge and jury here,” Chief Insp. Ndebele said.
A group of youths believed to be from Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) blocked the road with trees, shrubs, debris to prevent the MP and police from leaving without apologising.
The youths who were in a combative mood told police that they cannot sit and watch their parents suffer abuse from law enforcement agencies.
“We are prepared to take action, some of us work in South Africa and we came here to defend our parents. We don’t want to be provoked, otherwise hell will break loose as we start fighting,” they vowed.