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Residents irked by the rowdy behaviour of municipal police
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
April 20, 2010

Residents irked by the rowdy behaviour of municipal a commuter omnibus overturns after its tires were deflated by municipal police

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and the generality of the residents of Harare are not amused by the rowdy and irresponsible behaviour of the municipal police officers who are constantly harassing residents for petty issues. The overzealous officers threw a spike in front of a moving commuter omnibus in a bid to stop it after the driver was accused of flouting the City's parking by-laws. The commuter omnibus overturned and crashed into another vehicle at Corner Julius Nyerere and Robert Mugabe. The accident occurred at around 1pm yesterday. The two municipal police officers took to their heels as the bus was overturning. About eight people were injured and there are unconfirmed reports that some died.

This unfortunate and unnecessary incident has taken place barely six months after municipal police caused the death of a vendor at Mupedzanhamo Market in Mbare. It is shocking to note that the City of Harare seems to have done nothing to keep its unprofessional police force in line considering that they have caused the loss of life in the past. The municipal police officers are operating in an increasingly militarized fashion; a situation that has made them to become a nightmare to residents. It defies logic to note that the Council seems to be more inclined towards unleashing violence on residents instead of exploring professional and amicable ways of disciplining offenders. Compromising the safety and lives of residents for a $20 fine on wrong parking is simply unacceptable and it is tantamount to serious human rights violations.

Furthermore, municipal police are now infamous for their constant harassment of street vendors. The officers even have the audacity to beat up the vendors as well as confiscate their goods; a situation that has increased the impoverished populace in Harare. Council is well aware of the need of residents to make a living for themselves, but no plans have been made to construct more market stalls for the vendors to do their business without harassment. The tens of thousands of US Dollars that are being used to employ military municipal police officers who spend most of their time chasing vendors can be actually used to build market stalls. It is of no gain to employ a huge number of municipal police officers who have no knowledge of their key result areas.

CHRA calls on the Council to address this issue as a matter of urgency before municipal police shed more blood. The Association makes the following demands;

* The municipal police officers, who are responsible for yesterday's accident must be named, arrested and face the full wrath of the law.
* The Council should foot all the medical bills of the injured residents.
* The owner of the Commuter omnibus should be compensated for the loss of his vehicle
* Municipal police should, with immediate effect, stop using spikes to stop defaulting motorists
* A law must be put in place that protects residents and bars municipal police from using violence and force to apprehend residents who break municipal by-laws.
* The terms of reference for the municipal police should be re-defined and clarified.

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