By Watmore Makokoba
A case of police brutality which happened in Masvingo where Anna Masuka of Ngundu Village, Ward 11 in Gutu District was handcuffed to a fence for about seven hours is now being investigated by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).
ZHRC was alerted of the story which went viral on social media by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who are representing the victim.
Masuka is alleged to have been tied to Nyamandi High School fence from 0700 hours up to about 1400 hours where she was exposed to the scorching sun and had no access to ablution facilities.
According to the ZHRC investigations, police used unnecessary force, ill-treated and undeservingly detained the complainant which in violation of the Human Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The investigations also revealed that there was a violation of traditional values by the village head adding that the public prosecutor also subverted justice by failing to represent state witnesses.
The complainant alleges that on the day of the ordeal, villagers in her village demolished a church structure that had been constructed by Morning Glory Church in their area.
On the 12th of March, Masuka and another villager were taken by police officers who included Constable Dzinamo for questioning at Chinyika Police Base.
They were released on the same day, however, on the 2nd of April, two police officers, Constables Dzimano and Mlumbwa went to the complainant’s homestead intending to arrest her.
They allegedly grabbed her left hand and forcibly handcuffed her although she had agreed to go with them to the police station.
Officer-In-Charge of Bhasera Police Station Inspector Munyori told ZHRC that got the attention of the issue through a message he received through social media while attending a meeting at Nyika Police District Headquarters and he immediately advised his superiors before travelling to Masuka’s homestead to ascertain the matter.
The ZHRC report said “After his investigation, he charged Constable Dzimano in terms of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and in terms of the Police Act.
In terms of the Police Act, he charged him with performing his duties in an inappropriate manner. A disciplinary hearing was conducted at Nyika and the police officer was convicted and recalled from being a Member-in-Charge of a police base to being an ordinary police officer at the Police Station”.
In terms of the Criminal Code, Constable Dzimano was charged with kidnapping or unlawful detention.
A docket (Reference CR 26/3/17) was opened and is still pending at Gutu Magistrates Court where Masuka and her two alleged accomplices are being charged with malicious injury to property (MIP) as they are alleged to had been ringleaders during the demolition of the church.
ZHRC said rights of arrested and detained persons (Section 50 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe) were violated and that the public prosecutor did not perform her duty of ensuring that all the relevant issues in the case including sexual abuse were captured in the witness statement.
“Public prosecutor failed in her duty by failing to advise state witnesses on the court proceedings so that they could understand why they were attending court without all of them getting the opportunity to testify and why it was important for them to attend court until they were excused.
“She also did not advise them of their right to receive witnesses’ expenses for transport”, says ZHRC.
According to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, any person who is arrested must be treated humanely and with respect for their inherent dignity.
The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Article 4 provides that, ‘Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person and that “No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right”.
By Watmore Makokoba