By Tererai Karimakwenda
21 September 2012
A leading human rights group in Zimbabwe has expressed deep concern at the continued use of torture by the police during investigations, following the death of a suspect who had been assaulted by officers at Chitungwiza Police Station.
According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Harrison Manyati was a suspect under police custody when officers brutally assaulted and tortured him on September 4th. Manyati is reported to have died nine days later from the injuries he sustained. He was only 24 years old.
The Forum said Manyati had lodged a complaint of torture by officers at the same police station, but at the time of his death no action had been taken to investigate the complaint or prosecute the perpetrators.
Phillip Pasirayi from the Center For Community Development told SW Radio Africa they have it “on good record” that Harrison Manyati had died from injuries sustained during police interrogations at Chitungwiza Police Station.
He said the culture of impunity that existed before the coalition government was installed has continued to exist.
“We credit the MDC formations for condemning violence. A lot has been done by them but not enough to pressure Robert Mugabe into disbanding these gangs like Chipangano. And SADC should also be pressured to have monitors on the ground now to oversee events,” Pasirayi explained.
He added that the next election in Zimbabwe will be meaningless if it happens before reforms to the state security institutions are implemented. “To have elections while we still have a partisan police and military that publicly supports ZANU PF would be an exercise in futility,” Pasirayi said.
Earlier this month, a group of 20 soldiers ran amok and assaulted touts and rank marshals at the Charge Office commuter bus rank in Harare. The attack was allegedly meant as revenge for an assault on one of their colleagues, which had taken place at the same location.
There are also reports that rowdy soldiers and riot police are abusing revellers and other innocent civilians around Harare’s high-density suburbs, assaulting the public for unknown reasons. According to NewsDay newspaper, the unruly soldiers descended on Highfield, Glen View and Budiriro, confiscating vendors’ properties.
A statement from the Forum said: “The Forum urges the Government of Zimbabwe to immediately ratify the UN convention against Torture and its optional protocol as well as criminalise torture in Zimbabwe in fulfillment of its commitment before the UN Human Rights Council.”