Now Daily Editorial|
The request to parliament this week by a Zimbabwe Republic Police officer for a ‘constitutional amendment’ to allow the police to kill criminal suspects without taking them to court is totally absurd. This shows not only how dangerous our police are but also how ignorant they are of the laws that govern their duties.
Over the last decade and a half, the police have demonstrated that they are an irresponsible lot who do not respect the existing laws. They have become so lawless, violent and corrupt that people no longer feel safe in a police station. The cops have allowed themselves to be subjected to criminal Zanu PF orders to the extent that they no longer know what their role is exactly. Some have even joined or set up criminal syndicates which we see extorting commuter bus drivers and breaking the law in many other ways daily.
Many will remember the 2007 images of the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and others with serious head injuries inflicted by the police during systematic beatings. The police were at the forefront of violent farm invasions and the brutal Operation Murambatsvina, which has been declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations. In 2008, 300 political murders and numerous other serious crimes were committed by Zanu PF militias aided by the military. Noone has been arrested despite the overwhelming evidence presented to the police.
This week we had the police murdering two people in Harare and claiming that they were robbers. Of course, in the absence of an inquest, we will never know now if they were robbers or, as usual, they are just being framed.
Two days after those reckless cold-blooded executions, we had assistant commissioner Takawira Nzombe appearing before parliament’s thematic committee on human rights and asking for powers to kill robbers. What cheek and what ignorance of the law by those who are supposed to uphold it!
This issue was raised during the constitutional outreach and the people spoke unequivocally. They said they did not want human lives to be terminated willy nilly as was happening in the past.
That resolution by the people must be respected by those in authority. Policing does not exist in a vaccuum. For the ZRP to be effective in solving crime and handling dangerous situations, they need the respect and co-operation of the public. That can only happen when they stop acting like rogues and attacking the liberties of the people instead of protecting them.
The incidence of police killing, torturing and injuring suspects and damaging property in the process of investigations or operations is clearly one area of concern.
The violation of basic freedoms such as the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression is another sore point.
Corruption is yet another.
If these issues are addressed, our police will regain the confidence and co-operation of the public, which is much more useful than unlimited power to act as John Wayne.
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