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Govt urged to rein in ‘untouchable’ police
Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa
December 04, 2013

View this article on the SW Radio Africa website

The government has been urged to rein in the police and end the impunity enjoyed by some members of the force, in the wake of the unexplained death of a Shamva man while in detention.

Matthew Mwale died in police custody on Sunday, two hours after his arrest and detention at a local police station. His father Shadreck Mwale told the NewsDay newspaper this week that he suspects foul play, after being told his son drank poison while behind bars.

It is alleged that Matthew was picked up around 4pm on Sunday at Wadzanai commuter omnibus rank by two plainclothes police officers, who claimed to be from the CID Minerals Section in Bindura. It is unclear why the 26-year-old Matthew was detained.

His father was called by a local councillor to say that his son had died while in detention. He was then contacted by a police officer who told him that Matthew had drunk poison while in custody.

“I asked him how he could have drunk poison in the cell since people are searched before they are put in the cells, and he (the police officer) said that the issue was for their administration and they had witnesses whom I did not see,” Mwale was quoted as saying.

These details have come to light at the same time that people in Harare’s business district have been left reeling by a horror crash in the capital, caused by two police officers who then fled the scene. A war vet named Raphael Mbanje died after being hit by a commuter kombi, which was trying to flee the police officers.

“The vehicle was moving in reverse in Chinhoyi Street as the driver drove away from the police,” a witness has said.

“A policeman then approached the vehicle and smashed the windscreen with a baton stick. I heard a sound and the driver continued to reverse it and ran over the man once.”

“People screamed and shouted and the kombi driver panicked and continued to drive, running over the man again and killing him on the spot.”

A crowd soon gathered and demanded that national police be barred from street patrols in the city, saying council police should be given the mandate to patrol the streets. The crowd allegedly threatened to beat up police officers, prompting a call for riot police to intervene. According to local news, there was “pandemonium” as baton-wielding riot police moved in to disperse the crowd.

Harare Resident Trust Director Precious Shumba told SW Radio Africa that there is still anger among residents about the attitude of police members saying, “there is no political will to deal with the situation.”

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