By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
30 June 2014
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri’s claim that the ZRP will be guided by the Holy Spirit was exposed as being less than truthful at the weekend when police in Victoria Falls arrested activists, in a swoop which lawyers said was an abuse of authority by the force.
Bulawayo Agenda activists Meli Dube, Butholezwe Nyathi, Ntombiyezansi Mabunda and Thulani Moyo were arrested in the resort town on Saturday after attending a meeting which the police claimed was illegal.
The activists were charged for holding a public meeting without notifying the authorities, but lawyers said the arrest was ‘unconstitutional and was also an abuse of authority by the police.’
The four were detained for two nights and they appeared in court Monday where they were remanded out of custody until July 30th when they will appear again before a magistrate. Lawyer Thulani Nkala told SW Radio Africa that the charges against his clients were ‘unsustainable’ because the law requires that the convener of the meeting should notify the police of the event and not the people attending the meeting.
The arrest came a few days after Chihuri told a graduation of police recruits in Harare that the police force would in future be guided by the Holy Spirit ‘in all their interactions and endeavours.’
Chihuri said the ZRP will be deploying Chaplains at every police station in the country as a way to deal with the spiritual wellbeing of officers. He said in the past the ZRP had concentrated ‘on training the body and soul without giving particular attention to the spirit which is core.’
Chihuri’s claim to divine guidance come as the ZRP is seen as one of the most corrupt state departments in the country. Daily, members of the public take to social media to complain about traffic cops who force them to pay either bribes or spot fines for cooked up offences.
So endemic is police corruption that even police commissioner Augustine Chihuri was two months ago forced to try and minimize it by transferring as many as 2,000 cops from the traffic and minerals units from urban to remote areas and vice versa around the country.
A few years ago a regional anti-corruption trust found that the Zimbabwean traffic cops were the most corrupt in Southern Africa. Police officers have also been fingered in many human rights violations, with the most high profile case being the 2007 savage beating of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other activists as they tried to hold a prayer meeting.