Over 600 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe took part in the march before 60 of them were arrested. It is believed 25 of the women were arrested and taken to Harare Central Police station while 35 others handed themselves as solidarity.
According to a statement by Woza, the aim of the peaceful protest was to highlight community safety issues and police behaviour in communities.
“When the peaceful group arrived at Parliament, they handed over a list of demands for members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Police Commissioner and the co-Ministers of Home Affairs to police officers stationed outside Parliament.”
Two members addressed the peaceful group outside Parliament. They said the parliament led constitutional outreach meetings in Harare, marred by violence over the weekend illustrated how Zimbabweans had little experience of peace.
They called on the police to allow Zimbabweans to to give their views of what they want in a new Constitution without violence and called on police to arrest those that threatened others
or used violence.
Bystanders were overheard supporting the protestors – commenting on the violence shown by police officers in recent weeks and how police officers should be ashamed of themselves for not being the ones to keep the peace, according to the statement.
WOZA members have been worried about the performance and professionalism of police officers for some time. As a result, WOZA had observed their behaviour in select communities in Bulawayo and Harare for four months.
“WOZA members observed police officers beating suspects in public, harassing vendors and taking their goods for their own use, without any receipting, demanding and accepting bribes, both in public and at police stations, drinking in uniform in public, sometimes stopping to drink while escorting suspects who will be under arrest and making people under arrest ‘run’ in front of their motor bikes and/or horses to the police station. In Bulawayo, many police officers refuse to respond to citizens’ complaints if they speak in the Ndebele language, insisting they speak in Shona,” read the statement.
Seventy-five percent of people whose rights were violated during arrest reported
damages, injuries and or loss of property. These incidents were common when one was arrested by the plain-clothed and municipal police.
The statement said more details of the findings were available at the organisation’s website. It said the investigations done during the four months was just a small part of what was happening and were a reflection of a poor relationship between police and the community.
“It is clear that police officers routinely violate human rights and do not follow proper protocols of arrest and detention. In this regard, they are not following the Zimbabwe Police Act, the ZRP Service Charter and ZRP Service Standards as well as regional and international standards and instruments.”