Western Commonage court closure: Police brutality case stalls

The trial of six police officers who are facing charges of allegedly severely assaulting two women from Cowdray Park suburb has been halted after Western Commonage Court suspended proceedings after a prosecutor tested positive for Covid-19. 

The trial, which was supposed to continue on Tuesday, has been postponed to August 17.

The police officers 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.

In their previous appearance before Magistrate Gladmore Mushowe, the cops through their defence counsel led by Maclean Mahaso of Tanaka Law Chambers lost an application to except to the charges levelled against them. 

The lawyers registered to the court that they wish to make an appeal to the High Court seeking a review of Magistrate Mushowe’s ruling. 

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.”

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