Angry Zimbabwe Commuters Turn Against Police

The three police officers stormed into a commuter omnibus while it was off loading passengers at the busy and heavily congested Copa Cabana terminus in central Harare.

But before they could read out the charges to the commuter omnibus crew members of the public had surrounded the vehicle demanding their freedom.

“We are not going to leave until you set them free,” a woman could be heard saying with the support of many others who were shouting all sorts of insults at the police.

What made the members of the public even angrier was the ordeal they had been enduring over the past two weeks after the police launched an operation designed to decongest the city centre.

The operation, which targeted public transporters forced these to drop off passengers out of town, leaving them to cover a distance of about 30 minutes walk to get into town.

The police officers threatened to arrest some of the members of the public accusing them of inciting public violence and hatred against the police. But these threats even made it worse as a group of women and men volunteered to fill up the 18-seater commuter omnibus and be arrested together with the commuter crew.

“Your job is to protect us not to arrest us for no reason, we are enduring a lot of suffering because of you, why can’t you do your job properly?” said a ember of the public.

“Why should you always seek to harm us? Why are you roughing them like that, have they refused to be arrested?”

At that stage the police officers appeared to be giving up on arresting the crew and some who were dressed in plain clothes insisted on giving a public lecture on how police effect an arrest and how they should cooperate with the police.

But before they did the members of the public immediately told them that they were the ones who needed to be educated about the law.

“What does the police charter say?,” asked one of them.

The drama, which lasted about 20 minutes only, ended when the police officers gave up on arresting the crew.

Some members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) have often been seen roughing up suspected law breakers in public much to the chagrin of the members of the public who in most cases can’t do anything to stop the brutality.

The ZRP has not had a very good human rights record especially over the last few years when some officers have been implicated in cases of robbery, human rights abuses such as
abductions, torture and kidnappings.