By Chenayi Mutambasere
Some would say the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. can now finally rest in peace. With the West especially now taking lead to ensure that Black Lives Matter, are treated with respect and valued at all times. Parliamentary Leaders in the UK are taking a knee in solidarity with this cause while those in America make the African Ankara cloth a visible part of their dressing.
As scholars and ordinary men relisten to the famous “I have A Dream Speech” with the excitement that finally, modern society will allow that dream to come to pass. Listening to those thought provoking timeless words I come to a part that strikes me and resonates strongly “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of unspeakable horrors of police brutality..”
It’s interesting Martin Luther didn’t specify the race of the police he didn’t single it out to just white police officers but just generic police officers… A man of great conviction and prophetic magnitude was he cognisant of the fact that in some cases absolute power would corrupt absolutely such that police at the realm of corrupt entities could deliver unspeakable horrors?
It is on the basis of this statement that I realise his spirit is yet to rest for in the little teapot country black lives matter little to the police. For decades the black man continues to suffer horrific brutalities at the hands of the police.
As we pray and hope that a renewed focus on how black people are treated around the world we hope the tide will turn towards Zimbabwe. That black lives in this country may once again thrive without fear of brutality.
It only seems befitting in raising awareness towards the plight of the black man in Zimbabwe that we have a roll call on some of the black lives that are known to have suffered state agent brutality in the last 2 years.
I have attempted here to recall some of those we have come across who either suffered injury or whose life succumbed at the hands of state agent brutality. Note the list is by no means exhaustive and restricted only to the last 2 years (please feel free to add in other names in the comments section).
Paul Munakopa (28) was shot dead in the back by police officers following a high speed chase with an unidentified vehicle which turned out to be a police vehicle on 23 May. The police claim they shot him because he didn’t stop though his girlfriend alleges she and Paul didn’t realise they were police officers.
Not only that but there were no sirens from the police car or was any warning shot given before the fatal shot. Just one fatal shot that went straight through his shoulder. He later died in hospital a couple of hours from the time of shooting. He and his girlfriend had not contravened any laws and no charges have been brought forward against them by the police.
Hilton Tamangani (29), was one of 11 vendors arrested on unclear charges. The 11 were heavily beaten by the police before being taken to the remand prison. It was from these beatings that Hilton sustained his injuries. Through his lawyers he requested to be released for medical attention but he succumbed to his injuries 48 hours later and still on remand having been denied medical attention.
Elizabeth Zimunda (26) a veteran journalist was shot down by soldiers in January 2019 while taking footage of the Shut Down citizen protest.
Solomon Nyaruwa was shot dead during the peaceful citizens protest on 8 January 2019
On 8 August 2018, 7 citizens were gunned down by police/soldiers during citizen peaceful protests. Some of the deceased such as Sylvia Maphosa were literally walking home from work when she was shot from the back by soldiers according to live footage which show crowds being shot from the back while running away as soldiers release live ammunition.
The 7 reportedly killed on this day were
1. Sylvia Maphosa
2. Ishmael Kumire
3. Challenge Tauro
4. Garvin Dean Charles
5. Fungai Mukanyire
6. Jealous Chikandire
7. Brian Zhuwao
In addition to killings Zimbabweans have also been subjected to assault and torture by the police. Recently on April 16 two sisters aged 37 and 30 were brutally assaulted by police as they left the supermarket.
They were beaten and badly bruised but denied medical treatment instead being held in police cells till the next day. They received medical attention on release were the horrific images of their bruises were taken and circulated resulting in subsequent outcry.
More recently on 13 May, Joanah Mamombe, Cecillia Chimbiri and Netsai Marowa, 3 female leaders were arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station from there they were taken to an undisclosed location. There the 3 women were subjected to physical and sexual torture of a horrific nature. They were released at a rural location and sort help.
They since spent over 2 weeks in hospital. Upon their discharge they were followed by plain clothes police and rearrested from their lawyer’s offices. They are now facing trumped up charges that suggest they faked the abduction.
Currently the Trio have been remanded to Chikurubi in a move that has left any human being with an ounce of care in them shocked. This has proven that even under our watch in broad daylight the abuse continues. Such is the moral degradation of a captured state.
On Friday 5 June 2020 Womberai Nhende was brutally assaulted by police who still bundled him up and took him to Central police in spite of being evidently badly hurt. It was only after a public outcry that he was released for medical attention . Charges levelled against him are as yet unclear.
It’s clear state perpetrated violence against Zimbabwean black citizens is continuing in Zimbabwe at an escalating level. As citizens cry out everywhere that police brutality on black people must end may the force that beckons never rest until Zimbabweans are free from this…
Surely WE should never be satisfied as long as the Zimbabwean is the victim of unspeakable state agent perpetrated brutality.
Black Lives Matter in Zimbabwe – #WeCantBreathe.
Chenayi Mutambasere (Msc Development Economics and Policy) is the MDC UK and Ireland Province Secretary for Industry and Commerce. You can follow her on Twitter: @ChenayiM