Zimbabwe: Excessive Use of Force Leads to Death of Gweru Man

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The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) notes with concern the continued heavy-handedness of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in relation to the employment of force against citizens. This pattern has resulted in the unnecessary loss of a young life at the hands of police officers.

The Forum responded to a case in which a 28-year-old Gweru man passed away whilst in police custody on Sunday 28 February 2021. Tatenda Pasinyore was arrested on undisclosed charges and witness statements indicate that he was subjected to a brutal assault by arresting police officers. The Forum has received instructions to represent the Pasinyore family and is currently awaiting post mortem results.

"As the Forum, we say no to extrajudicial killings. The independent mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public for misconduct by members of the security service envisaged by the section 210 of the Constitution must be brought into effect as a matter of urgency," said Nobel Chinhanu, a lawyer who is representing the Pasinyore family.

Residents of Mambo suburb narrated how they called the police to report a drunken man who was making noise in the neighbourhood around 2am. It was reported that up to five police officers responded to the call and arrested Pasinyore who was allegedly able to walk at the time of arrest. However, following his arrest, residents confirmed that Pasinyore pleaded for assistance for over 30 minutes and they believe he was being assaulted by the police officers.

"We were surprised and hurt to hear rumours that Nyale (as Pasinyore was known) had died in police custody naked. He was dressed in a worksuit and could walk when he was arrested," said a resident on condition of anonymity.

Fellow inmates in the police cells said Pasinyore was dumped by police officers in a corner of the uncovered holding area, while it was raining, around 3am. They suspected he had a fractured hand, could not speak and was only clothed in his underwear. According to witnesses, a police officer threw his wallet into the holding area and disappeared. Inmates realised he was motionless around 4am wherein they called for the police to attend to the scene. Paramedics arrived at Mutapa Police Station around 7am wherein they pronounced Pasinyore as deceased.

"When we went to the mortuary we realised Tatenda's right arm and ribs were broken. He had wounds all over the body and was bruised on the right hip. We are hurt by Tatenda's passing on and those responsible should be held to account," said Stella Mushayi, Pasinyore's aunt.

The Forum is expressly concerned about the lack of remorse by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police at Mutapa as well as Gweru Central Police Station who are not treating the matter with the diligence it deserves.

The Forum calls upon the government to:

1) Thoroughly and exhaustively cause, through the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage. The investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Tatenda Pasinyore and bring the responsible perpetrators to justice;

2) Finalise the process leading to the promulgation of the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill;

3) Ratify and domesticate the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and

4) Amend the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act to include a stand-alone offence of torture, accompanied by severe punishment.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum)

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