Human Rights Lawyers Slam Ndanga, ZRP Over Budiriro Mapostori Fiasco

Harare, June 3, 2014 – The country’s leading legal defence group,
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has slammed the use of mob
justice to settle grievances and called upon the Zimbabwe Republic
Police (ZRP) to embrace professionalism in the fight to stem anarchy
in the country.
In a hard hitting statement, the influential ZLHR castigated the ZRP
and leaders of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) for
opening themselves up to abuse by opportunists in committing criminal
offences.
“Too often in the past and present have we witnessed organisations and
individuals who consider themselves to be above the law utilising the
coercive power of state institutions to pursue their own selfish,
unlawful and corrupt objectives. This is the reason why wide-ranging
reforms were introduced in our new Constitution. Section 208 of the
Constitution provides that the police, as part of the security
services of Zimbabwe, must not act in a partisan manner, must not
further the interests of any political party, and must ensure that
they are non-partisan and professional in executing their duties at
all times,” ZLHR said in a statement seen by Radio VOP. “Where some
members of the police allow themselves to be abused, and where they
disregard all professionalism and ethics to the extent of providing an
escort to a violent mob that perpetrates crimes such as arson and
malicious injury to property, it is very clear that such police have
violated their constitutional obligations and action needs to be taken
against them. It is when disciplinary action is not taken, and where
prosecutions do not occur, that citizens will begin to lose respect
for legitimate authority and resort to self-help and mob justice,”
ZLHR added.
The rebuke of the ZRP and ACCZ by ZLHR comes after last week’s failed
and aborted attempt by the Johannes Ndanga-led ACCZ to ban followers
of the Johanne Masowe weChishanu apostolic sect members from
conducting church services from a shrine in Harare’s Budiriro suburb
for alleged gross violations of women’s and children’s rights.
With the assistance of the ZRP, Ndanga and his team last Friday
descended on Budiriro where they unilaterally sought to ban the
Johanne Masowe weChishanu church.
But the ACCZ’s decision was met with fierce resistance by members of
the Johanne Masowe weChishanu who assaulted the police officers, ACCZ
officials and innocent journalists covering the event.
The police responded by arresting and detaining 26 sect members whom a
Harare Magistrate on Tuesday directed that they be medically treated
for injuries sustained in police custody when they appeared in court
for initial remand where they were denied bail and remanded in
custody.
On Monday ZANU PF party youths, fortified by uniformed ZRP details
descended on and vandalised the Johanne Masowe weChishanu apostolic
sect shrine executing retributive mob justice.
The use of mob justice was condemned by ZLHR, which demanded a
thorough investigation of the Budiriro fiasco to nail all perpetrators
of violence.
“ZLHR unreservedly condemns the initial violent attacks on Friday on
members of the ZRP and media practitioners; the alleged indiscriminate
arrest and detention of suspected perpetrators of these attacks over
the weekend; the retaliatory mob violence, arson and destruction of
property on Monday; as well as the condonation of – if not open
support provided by – uniformed members of the ZRP during this latest
incident of mob justice and captured by the media for all to see.
Violence, in any form, and by any member of our society must be
condemned by all law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of the country.
It has no place whatsoever in a community that embraces the
constitutional ethos of peace, respect for fundamental human rights,
freedoms and human dignity………..Professionalism and mob justice
therefore are intricately linked, and where one (professionalism) is
not enforced, the other (mob justice) dangerously takes centre-stage,”
ZLHR said.
The human rights organization called upon the ZRP to exercise
restraint, maintain professionalism, and ensure that any
investigations and arrests for the violent acts are carried out in the
most professional and transparent manner.
“The ZRP leadership must take concrete steps to ensure that members
are not politicised and that there is zero tolerance for illegal acts
and police complicity in criminal acts such as those witnessed on 2
June 2014,” ZLHR said.
ZLHR bemoaned that the Budiriro chaotic incidents had effectively
prevented a critical and necessary focus on, and investigation of the
questionable legal/judicial authority under which the ACCZ sought to
execute a ban on the shrine with the assistance of members of the ZRP
and the disturbing allegations of violations perpetrated against women
and children.
“ZLHR is of the opinion that, for as long as this anarchic behaviour
persists, and the ZRP and National Prosecuting Authority do not take
action as called for above, these two issues that go to the very core
of rule of law and the protection of women and children, will be
sidelined,” the legal defence group said.