13 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Cops Ban ZRP Brutality Day Commemorations

Photo: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Facebook
Police beat up woman in Harare (file photo).

Police have banned the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) from commemorating its Police Brutality Day, also known as September 13, saying they did not know the significance of the event.

The ZCTU had written to the police on September 5 notifying them of their intentions to commemorate the day on Saturday, September 16, by way of cleaning up the Charge Office Bus Terminus area before convening at their head office at Gorlon House for speeches.

However in a letter dated 12 September, 2017 signed by Officer Commanding Harare Province, Chief Superintendent Jasper Chizemo ZRP said the intended commemorations had nothing to do with trade unionism.

Chizemo directed the labour body to comply with sections 23 (1) (a) and (b) and 25 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) (Chapter 11:17.

"The rationale behind the commemoration of the so called police brutality day is not exclusively for the bona fide Trade Union purposes for the conduct of business in accordance with the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01). The significance of this commemoration is not known to us. As a result, provisions of the Public Order and Security Act, Chapter 11:17 have to be invoked," he said.

On September 13, 2006, more than 100 trade union leaders from the ZCTU were arrested while attempting to demonstrate against the worsening economic crisis.

Many of them were tortured while in custody and were badly battered, resulting in some of them suffering broken limbs and ribs needing medical attention for days.

Among them were ZCTU Secretary General, Wellington Chibebe, then President, Lovemore Matombo, Deputy President, Lucia Matibenga, Gwatipedza Chigwagwa, Getrude Mthombeni, Moses Ngondo and Tonderai Nyahunzvi who succumbed to the beatings a few years after the torture.

Chibebe, who was left unconscious after sustaining head injuries and fractures to his right arm, which is now permanently disabled, had to have an extraordinary court session held at his hospital bed.

More than 30 others limped as they appeared at the Harare Magistrates court.

In 2007, the ZCTU held commemorations to mark the incident and the day has been commemorated annually since.

However, the labour body has had to seek legal intervention in most cases as the police repeatedly banned the commemorations.

Meanwhile, the ZCTU has reacted angrily to the ban, saying it will not be intimidated by the use of force by the rogue regime to subdue the will of the people.

ZCTU Secretary General, Japhet Moyo said in a statement released Wednesday evening that the use of colonial laws by the government to deny workers their constitutional rights to freedom of association and expression would only agitate them more and prepare them for direct confrontation with government.

"As we mark the event today the police have not repented, our intended march for the commemorations has been banned by the police in Harare. We view this as a violation of the right to freedom of expression and labour rights. We are not taking this conduct lying down and we will respond with appropriate measures," Moyo said without elaborating what action the labour body intended to take.

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