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harassment for wearing camouflage in Harare
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.
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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