Harare council police go on rampage
By Violet Gonda
5 November 2009
There were running battles between council police and members of the public at Harare’s Fourth Street bus terminus on Thursday. Problems started when a small group of council police officers went on the rampage at the terminus looking for illegal touts, people who ‘assist’ bus conductors and drivers to fill the vehicles with passengers.
Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said: “When they arrived they started beating people arbitrarily and without warning, which resulted in some members of the public, the touters and commuter bus operators, fighting back.” The crowd outnumbered the officers who retreated back to the council offices to get more manpower.
Muchemwa said two truckloads of council police, numbering about 50, returned and ran around beating people, again randomly. He said they beat up almost everybody in sight, including some school children and the elderly. This incensed the public even more, resulting in the running battles, especially from many youths who pelted the police with stones in retaliation. Several people are said to have been injured and a number of commuter buses damaged.
Although they are supposed to target people perceived to be contravening city by-laws, Muchemwa said the municipal police are becoming more and more like law enforcement officers from the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and are becoming thuggish in the manner in which they deal with the general public. Their main targets are street vendors, foreign exchange dealers and commuter operators.
We were not able to get a comment from the municipality.