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Police criticised for refusing to accept blame for killing man
January 10, 2007

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe human rights groups on Tuesday condemned the police for refusing to accept blame for the fatal shooting of a 25-year old man in Bulawayo by a senior police officer on New Year's eve.

Artwell Magagada was accidentally shot in the head on December 31 whilst coming from work by the police officer who was trying to control revelers in the city.

Magagada died last Friday at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo.

A family spokesman who spoke to ZimOnline yesterday said senior police officials who visited the family last weekend refused to accept responsibility for the death of Magagada because the officer who shot him was off-duty.

The police officer has since been identified as Superintendent Milos Moyo.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku condemned the killing of Magagada saying it indicated that Zimbabwe had been reduced to a "police state."

"We really condemn the action of the police and we are going to take further action against the violation of the human rights by the police. It shows that this country has become a police state and this is unacceptable," said Madhuku.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) chairman Otto Saki said his organisation had already talked to the family to help it take the case to court.

"How could a senior police officer who is off duty open fire without due regard to the safety of civilians? We have already talked to the family and some of our lawyers are going to represent and assist them to take the matter further in the courts," said Saki.

ZimRights chairman Kucaca Phulu said the decision by the police not to accept responsibility for the death was "ridiculous."

"The police officer was doing an act of policing when he shot Magagada and whether he was on duty or off duty is an internal police arrangement. The public knows that he is a policeman," Phulu said.

Sources within the police said Magagada is the third person to be gunned down by the same police officer, who is regarded in police circles as trigger-happy, in four years.

According to the sources Moyo was in fact banned from handling firearms after he shot a demonstrator in Bulawayo in 2005. He had been transferred to Bulawayo after shooting another man in Harare in 2004, the sources said.

"He is not allowed to carry any type of firearm because he is trigger happy. He was transferred to this city (Bulawayo) in 2004, after fatally shooting a tout in Harare during the same year," said a source.

Moyo is yet to be punished for the shootings but police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka said the police authorities were investigating the trigger-happy cop over the shooting of Magagada.

Mandipaka however refused to comment on allegations that Moyo had killed two other people or that he was in 2005 banned from handling firearms because he was deemed trigger-happy.

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