By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
24 April 2014
Harare residents have said Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri is responsible for the death of a boy, who died after being knocked down by a commuter omnibus whose driver was fleeing cops who wanted a bribe.
Three-year old Neil Tanatswa Mutyora died in hospital on Tuesday after he was hit by a commuter omnibus in the city center. The child was walking in the company of an adult when the accident occurred.
According to reports the driver of the omnibus was trying to avoid paying a bribe to the cops. A NewsDay report said the child’s parents ‘blamed corruption and police heavy handedness for their son’s death.’
SW Radio Africa heard that there was an outpouring of anger and grief at Granville Cemetery where the child was laid to rest Thursday. Mourners publicly said commissioner general Augustine Chihuri must take responsibility for the child’s death.
Moses Matenga, a journalist who covered the funeral, said while the owner of the commuter omnibus contributed towards the cost the police did not bother and neither did they attend. He said: ‘The only time the police had contact with the Mutyora family was when they phoned the aunt who was in the company of the deceased child to come to the Harare central police station to give a statement.’
Harare Residents Trust Director Precious Shumba condemned the police for chasing after commuter omnibuses in the city center, saying they were endangering people’s lives. He said: ‘In our view the police do not need to chase after the omnibuses. They just need to take down the number of vehicle and transmit that number to the central vehicle registry so that the owner can be pursued legally if there is any case after all.’
Shumba said in most cases the drivers flee from the police as a way of avoiding paying bribes. He said it was not the first time that traffic cops had caused death through similar accidents.
According to the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition two people died in February this year into two separate accidents during police chases in central Harare. In 2013 one person died, while an elderly woman was knocked down. That same year 16 people were injured when a commuter omnibus overturned in Bulawayo under similar circumstances.
Police recklessness is not limited to the department of traffic. Recently, three officers from Inyanga were forced to pay compensation to a mother whom they brutally assaulted after she failed to produce her son whom they were looking for.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights chipped in to sue the police on behalf of Felistas Mutsamarudza leading to an out of court settlement after the officers agreed to pay. In another separate incident, the lawyers group is suing both Chihuri and home affairs minister Kembo Mohadi for the torture of two Bulawayo men by the cops last month.