by Watmore Makokoba
Ngundu villagers in Gutu were last week left tongue-tied after members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police handcuffed Anna Masukagoto (45) and tied her to a local school fence for several hours accusing her of allegedly conniving with other villagers to resists the construction of a church on land reserved for cattle grazing
The two policeman identified as Constable Dzinamo and Mlumbwa stationed at Chinyika base in Bhasera `punished` Masukangoto for allegedly revolting against the move by destroying a toilet that was set up by a school teacher identified as Ms. Junior Brani who is spearheading the construction.
“She was taken from her home by the police and they tied to her to a barbed wire fence sitting down on the bare ground in the blaze of the sun at Nyamande High School for about four hours,” said a local villager who witnessed the event.
According to the community residents, the dispute arose sometime in 1995 when there were attempts to build a church in the same place to which the community refused but last year Brani went ahead to build a toilet on the disputed land.
During the demolition of the toilet, Masukangoto is reported to have been the `ring leader` leading to the dehumanizing ordeal she went through in the hands of the two policemen.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has since sent a legal team to investigate the case and has condemned the incident as a gross human rights violation by state security agents.
“ZimRights will leave no stone unturned on this matter, this is not the only case of behavior by law enforcement institutions and we call’s upon the government to institute a wide-ranging human rights awareness in law enforcement institutions’’, said Okay Machisa, Director for ZimRights
Last year during peaceful protests, images were circulated showing police engaging in unconstitutional and inhuman treatment of citizens.
`Thus, Zimbabwe has generally become a country whose law enforcement institutions have a sad propensity of violating human rights often with impunity,
What exacerbates this culture is the appearance by the authorities of letting law enforcement personnel of the hook, showing ignorance of what is happening and not taking firm action despite many reports and complaints of that nature“ said Machisa.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) last year August released a statement indicating high levels of police brutality in Zimbabwe.