Police brutality against residents condemned by Matland CSOs

see also WOZA statement
State of the Nation March

Matabeleland Civil Society Organisations Press Statement
Following the unredeemable police brutal action against protests that took place between 1 – 25 July 2016 in Beitbridge, Victoria Falls and Bulawayo, The Matabeleland Civil Society Organisations (MCSOs) would like to urgently call on the Zimbabwean Government to immediately engage citizens and listen to their grievances as regards the state of the nation and its socio economic meltdown. Failure to do so may result in serious civil strife and unrest as has periodically been witnessed in the past few weeks.

It is noted with concern that, while citizens were acting well within their constitutional rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights and other sections of the Constitution, police officers in the above mentioned areas took extreme measures to crush protests, thereby leading to violent clashes, beating of protesters, arrests and thereafter extremely inhumane treatment of detained demonstrators while in police custody. Of further concern isthe vicious retributive action taken by the police in following up after demonstrators, which led to the death of an infant and assaults on innocent civilians residing in and around Burombo flats in Bulawayo. Police heavy handedness during and after the protests is condemned in the strongest terms as many people were left suffering injuries caused by the use of force and tear gas.

As Matabeleland civil society organisations, we would like to unequivocally state the following:
1. We condemn the brutal beatings, torture, indiscriminate and careless use of tear gas and arbitrary arrests of minors and adults for exercising and enjoying their fundamental rights. We therefore appeal to all officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to honor and respect their Police charter and the Bill of Rights in the constitution of Zimbabwe to protect human life, human dignity and human rights and in particular children’s safety and peace of mind.
2. We call on the Government to;
-Genuinely and urgently engage citizens and listen to their grievances as regards the state of the nation, as Failure to address the socio economic meltdown may result in continued serious civil strife.
– Investigate and prosecute all human rights violations detailed in the attached report.
– Immediately repeal statutory instrument 64/2016 and review all laws that hinder citizen’s right to trade and earn a living.
– To respect, protect and fulfil fundamental rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights.
3. We call on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to take its mandate and investigate, document and make recommendation on the human rights violations in this report.
4. We call on citizens to peacefully continue to demand their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
5. We call on the regional and international community to ensure the plight of Zimbabwean citizens remain on the agenda
6. We call on the SADC, in particular the Heads of States summit to be held in Mbabane, Swaziland as from the 15th to the 17th of August 2016 to priorities the plight of Zimbabwean citizens and directly address the issues raised in this report.

Endorsed by the following Institutions:
1. Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association
2. Habakkuk Trust
3. National Youth Development Trust
4. Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe
5. Radio Dialogue
6. Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
7. Zimbabwe Christian Alliance
8. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights