By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, September 03, 2016 – A local NGO has warned the current brutal attacks by police on civilians could see citizens start launching counter attacks on law enforcement agents to the detriment of the country’s peace and security.
Zimbabwe has witnessed a wave of recent anti-government protests in which police have responded with brute force.
Images of police savaging protesters, some of them older citizens expressing their right to freedom of expressing, have been captured and circulated on social media.
Ordinary members of the public who have not been part of the protests have also been caught up during police-public skirmishes as citizens continue to demand more accountable leadership from the Robert Mugabe led Zanu PF government.
Police have also been accused of effecting dragnet arrests on people they suspect to have been involved in unsanctioned demonstrations.
Heal Zimbabwe Trust captured these incidents in a report which highlighted how there is now “loss of respect” among members of the public.
“Public counter-attacks are a result of lost respect to the police force and a revenge opportunity taken by citizens,” said the group.
“In this view, any further use of brutal force against citizens could increase backlashes against the law enforcement leading to potential lawlessness, criminality and lack of respect on the part of our national police force.”
The NGO stressed that there was need for the government to restrain its law enforcement organs from using brutal force against ordinary citizens.
“The government may need to consider preventing the use of force against peaceful and genuine social dissention in order to restore the dignity of national institutions and the morality of its citizens towards public officials,” they added.
The group further warned police brutality was dangerous in a democracy.
“The emerging levels of police brutality and public violence revenge are a dangerous precedent to the democracy that Zimbabwe seeks to build. Peace, law and order are never built on the foundations of violence.
“Therefore, for the police to pursue national security, law and order using inhumane actions and violence against peaceful citizens is deplorable and objectionable. It is an affront to the People’s Constitutional Rights and fundamental human freedoms,” they said.