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Police harassment for wearing camouflage in Harare
Ruth Vosloo
February 09, 2007

On our way into TM at Sam Levi's Village on Saturday morning, a very stroppy policeman approached us, flashed his ID and arrested my son for wearing a "camouflage uniform". My son was dressed in black T-shirt, black track shoes and washed out camouflage board shorts.

We were flabbergasted, apologised, promised now that we knew it was an offence that he would not wear them again etc, etc. He would hear nothing of this and said he was going to book him and put him in jail as in committing an offence my son was now "his" and had given up any right to freedom. The brave policeman had three other "hardened criminals" in his custody, another child of 15 also wearing camouflage board shorts and two older chaps, one wearing a camouflage floppy hat and the other a bush cap with bamboo on it, no camouflage in sight.

My son turned 18 last week, legally making him "an adult". However we were shocked to find that the police can arrest and hold a child 14 or older, for at least 48 hours if they so wish.

It is an offence to be in possession of a "Camouflage Uniform" which is defined for legal purposes as any piece of "apparel" bearing a camouflage print or pattern and in our Policeman's case even a similar pattern and colour will do. This law was passed in July 2006. It is punishable by a fine, 6 months in jail or both.

It was clear on our arrival at Borrowdale Police Station that this was clearly a case of one Policeman having a bad day. He threatened the boys with being able to hold them until Wednesday and scared the living day lights out of them and us. Thank goodness for The Member In Charge who very helpful and patient in the face of very over protective parents, he arranged for the "criminals" to be released by the end of Saturday. No outcome has been reached and my son as it stands will have to appear in court to answer these charges.

PLEASE BE WARNED and warn your children that although camouflage is the "height of cool" at the moment, it is illegal to even possess it, much less wear it in Zimbabwe.

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