By Mashudu Netsianda
The trial of six police officers who allegedly brutalised two women from Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb for allegedly violating lockdown regulations started on Wednesday.
The police officers’ application for exception was dismissed by Western Commonage magistrate, Ms Gladmore Mushove.
Ms Mushove ruled on Tuesday that the reasons for exception cited by the police officers’ lawyers were not justified.
Simbarashe Bvekwa (26), Tichaona Zariro (34), Patson Gumoreyi (30), Elizabeth Denhere (41), Zibusiso Masuku (27) and Christabel Munyondo (28) who are all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) are facing assault charges. Ms Mushove remanded the accused to July 28 for continuation of trial.
The accused persons allegedly handcuffed and assaulted the two sisters aged 30 and 36 years after they found them at the shops where they were buying some foodstuffs on April 16.
The two women were allegedly assaulted for hours with batons on their backs, hips and legs by the police officers who accused them of violating lockdown regulations. The officers allegedly detained the women overnight at Cowdray Park Police Base after refusing to let them pay fines.
In their defence, through their lawyer, Mr Maclean Mahaso of Tanaka Law Chambers, the officers said the charges levelled against them were framed. They however said the complainants acted in an unbecoming manner towards them on the day in question.
“My clients were on an assignment to maintain lockdown regulations in Cowdray Park suburb on the day in question. When they arrived at TM supermarket there was a long queue for mealie-meal. The complainants were standing at a distance from the queue,” said Mr Mahaso.
“The police officers ordered people to either join the queue in an orderly manner or go home and at that point, the complainants started to protest and shouted obscenities and other abusive words at the accused persons.”
Mr Mahaso said the accused persons sought to apprehend the two complainants but they fled and were blocked at the entrance of TM Supermarket.
“The complainants were blocked from gaining entry by members of staff at the supermarket. The six accused persons took the complainants and advised them that they were under arrest,” he said.
Mr Mahaso said his clients took the complainants to Cowdray Park Police Base where they were detained.
“They expressly admitted their criminal behaviour which culminated in their payment of fine of $200 each and left the base,” he said.
Prosecuting, Mr Kenneth Shava, said on April 16 this year, the two women met the police officers and they stopped them and demanded to know where they were coming from during the lockdown period.
The complainants told the accused persons that they were coming from a butchery to buy meat. The court heard that the accused persons grabbed the complainants and hit them with a baton several times on their buttocks.
In the process, one of the complainants’ cellphone, which was in her back pocket was damaged.
“The accused persons took turns to assault the two women on their buttocks and hips several times, insulting them with obscenities. They then handcuffed and force-marched them to Cowdray Park Police Base where they released them the following day after paying a fine of $200 each,” said Mr Shava.
A report was made to the police leading to the arrest of the six accused persons following an identification parade. The complainants alleged cops picked them out from a queue at the supermarket and cuffed their hands behind their backs.
The officers allegedly force-marched the victims through a bush to Cowdray Park Police Base, making frequent stops along the way to beat them with batons. The Chronicle