By Tafadzwa Muranganwa.
Local human rights watch group The Zimbabwe Human Right NGO Forum has petitioned the Zimbabwe Republic Police(ZRP) and its parent ministry for the gross human rights violations being perpetrated by uniformed members during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown.
In a press statement ,the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum which is chaired by Jestina Mukoko who herself is a victim of gross human rights violations,said it gravely concerned with the obtaining situation hence the petition which was handed on Friday .
“The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) is appalled and outraged by the continued human rights violations that are openly taking place in Zimbabwe, and perpetrated by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown which is currently in operation.
“It is as a result of the outrage that we have as the Forum this morning presented a petition to the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, the Honourable Kazembe Kazembe which was received by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Mr Aaron Nhepera as well as to the Commissioner General of Police Godwin Matanga which was received by the police spokesperson assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi,”said the Forum, a coalition of 20 human rights organisations.
In the petition,the organisation cites the unlawful arrest and assault of two Bulawayo women by six police officers which went viral as a matter that warrants investigations and the officers implicated to be brought to book to break culture of impunity.
“Noting with concern the unlawful arrest and assault by six members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police of citizens Nokuthula Mpofu and Ntombizodwa Mpofu of Bulawayo on 16 April 2020, and 245 other cases documented by the Petitioners since the inception of the COVID-19 national lockdown on 30 March 2020; noting also that the assault of Nokuthula Mpofu and Ntombizodwa Mpofu and the resultant grievous harm was of such intensity that it attracted the attention of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, with a team from the Commission led by Commissioner Leslie Ncube visiting the victims to assess the harm done;
“Desirous that the cycle of impunity by some Zimbabwe Republic Police officers be broken, by having the Commissioner-General of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage fully investigate, identify and ensure accountability of the police officers who assaulted Nokuthula Mpofu and Ntombizodwa Mpofu, and bring justice to the victims. This will also send a clear warning to all police officers to desist from such conduct,” reads part of the petition.
The petition also implored the ZRP and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to expedite investigations into the abduction and subsequent torture of the three MDC youth assembly executive members namely Joana Mamombe,Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.
Meanwhile , two freelance journalist Samuel Takawira and Frank Chikowore were arrested by the police while on duty at a local clinic where they were interviewing the three MDC activists who are recuperating at the facility and at the time of writing the state was yet to press charges.
There are growing concerns that the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led administration is escalating gross human right violations despite its assurance to drift away from the dark history of the late Mugabe-regime.