Police brutality case proceeds to trial

The case in which six police officers are accused of brutally assaulting two women from Cowdray Park suburb during the lockdown period will now proceed to trial after Western Commonage Magistrate Gladmore Mushowe dismissed an application by the cops for the charges to be dropped.

The magistrate, Tuesday, ruled that the reasons for exception cited by the defence counsel did not warrant the application to be upheld, hence the trial should proceed. 

Allegations against the police officers are that they handcuffed, assaulted, labelled ‘prostitutes’ and tribally insulted the two women (who are sisters) Ntombizodwa and Nokuthula Mpofu after they had gone to the shops to buy some foodstuffs on April 16.

Simbarashe Bvekwa (26), Tichaona Zariro (34), Patson Gumoreyi (30) Elizabeth Denhere (41), Zibusiso Masuku (27) and Christabel Munyondo, (28) who are all employed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) are each facing two counts of assault.

The defence counsel led by Maclean Mahaso of Tanaka Law Chambers, informed the court that they will make an application to the High Court to review the ruling by Magistrate Mushowe. 

Mahaso pleaded with the court that the trial be adjourned until such a time when the High Court makes its ruling on their application.

The State, represented by Keneth Shava, argued that the defence was trying to delay the proceedings of the case. 

Shava said the case should proceed to trial and should the High Court ruling come in favour of the cops then necessary procedures would be undertaken. 

In their defence, the six police officers denied all the charges that the State levelled against them, citing that the two sisters, Ntombizodwa and Nokuthula Mpofu, acted in an unbecoming manner towards them on the day in question.

Mahaso, on behalf of his clients, told the court that there was no point at which the complainants were assaulted or insulted.

“My clients were on an assignment to maintain lockdown regulations in Cowdray Park on the day in question. When they arrived at TM supermarket there was a long queue for mealie-meal. Ntombizodwa and Nokuthula Mpofu were standing at a distance from the queue,” Mahaso said.

“The police officers advised everyone there present to either join the queue in an orderly manner or go home if they had no business there. At that point, the complainants started to remonstrate against the police. They shouted obscenities and other abusive words at them.”

Mahaso further told the court that the police officers sought to apprehend the two but they fled with the intent of gaining entry into TM supermarket.

“They (complainants) were blocked from gaining entry by members of staff at the supermarket. The six accused persons took the complainants and advised them that they had been placed under arrest,” he said.

“They took them to Cowdray Park police base where they were duly charged and detained. They expressly admitted their criminal behaviour which culminated in their payment of fine to the sum of ZWL$200 each. The two subsequently vacated the police base without any incidence of violence.”

The State alleges that on the fateful day, the two women met the police officers whom they told they were coming from the butchery to buy meat. 

Shava says the cops then grabbed the women by the hands and hit them with a baton stick several times on their buttocks. 

“During the process, Ntombizodwa’s cellphone, which was in her back pocket got damaged. She then approached the accused persons to tell them that they had damaged her phone.”

He added that the accused persons went on further to take turns to assault the two women on their buttocks and hips several times, insulting them with obscenities and degrading them over their tribal affiliations.

“The two women were then handcuffed and force marched to the Cowdray Park police base. They were released on April 17 after paying a fine of ZWL$200 each,” Shava said.

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