“We have seen an alarming increase in violent assaults against our police officers. Last year an officer was assaulted in America on average every 10 minutes. In 2016 more than 140 officers lost their lives serving in the line of duty. These deaths feel our hearts with pain and with grief. Every drop of blood spilled from our men and women in blue is a wound inflicted on our nation. And when a brother or sister in uniform is hurt on that day all of America bleeds blue. I wanna send a message today to those who threaten violence against our police, we will protect those who protect us and we believe criminals who kill police officers should get the death penalty.”
These are the words of United States President Donald Trump, but there was total silence when a police officer was stoned to death in Bulawayo during the anti-government protests last month.
According to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the army was called in to assist the police after police stations and some officers were attacked.
“During the unrests in the country that occurred from January 14 to 16, the protesters targeted police stations and members of that force on whom they vented their anger. This resulted in the ZRP calling for assistance from the ZDF to quell the rowdy elements in the streets,” the army said yesterday dismissing reports that its armouries were raided.
“It has been reported countless times that the protesters attacked and killed a police officer at ZRP Southlea Park in Harare. She was eventually stripped naked in broad daylight.
“Similarly, these protesters also overran several ZRP establishments, in the process, raiding and burning down sensitive points of that organisation. These included armouries and records offices in Chitungwiza, Southlea Park and Dombotombo in Marondera,” the army statement said.
“These are the places and occurrences that Major-General Nyikayaramba made reference to. One would struggle to ascertain where and when the same press conference made reference to the army and ZDF armouries being raided.”
There has been worldwide condemnation of the heavy-handedness by the security forces in dealing with the protesters but very little coverage of the destruction caused by the protesters which includes the deaths of at least two police officers.
Human rights body Amnesty International has even produced a report entitled: Open for business, closed for dissent in which it says at least 15 people were shot and killed by security forces, over 78 were treated for gunshot wounds, over 1000 were arbitrarily arrested and hundreds have been prosecuted in fast-tracked trials on charges of public violence or subverting a constitutional government.
The report does not say whether the 15 killed include the two police officers so far identified.
The report is apparently aimed at isolating Zimbabwe as it urged the African Union which is currently meeting in Addis Ababa to:
- Ensure that the dire human rights crisis in Zimbabwe is included as an agenda item;
- Condemn the ongoing widespread human rights violations and abuses, including arbitrary restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression; threats to and attacks against human rights defenders; the arbitrary denial of bail and other fair trial rights; and the possible use of rape and sexual violence as an instrument of repression;
- Urge the government of Zimbabwe to put an end to these patterns of serious human rights violations and abuses, abide by its domestic, regional and international human rights obligations, and bring to justice members of the security forces reasonably suspected of committing crimes;
- Propose to the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, the adoption of a decision requesting the AU Peace and Security Council to deploy a fact-finding mission to assess the human rights situation in Zimbabwe with a view to proposing recommendations on how to effectively address and end the human rights crisis.