POLICE officers and soldiers on Sunday indiscriminately beat up Kadoma residents ahead of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s tour to assess compliance to lockdown measures put in place to slow down the spread of COVID-19, NewsDay has learnt.

BY BRENNA MATENDERE/NUNURAI JENA

Mnangagwa has been on a whirlwind tour to check on whether citizens were heeding his 21-day national lockdown order, which came into effect on March 30.

On Sunday, he toured Norton and Chegutu before passing through Kadoma on his way to Kwekwe, where he also conducted a similar exercise.

However, Kadoma residents told NewsDay that State security agents harassed and assaulted anyone seen outside gates or on the streets of Rimuka and Waverly suburbs.

Kadoma Progressive Residents Association chairperson Wilbert Murambiwa said security agents also assaulted vendors at the local market.

“We are not happy that some residents, mainly vendors, were beaten up by soldiers. It’s now as if beating people is medicine for COVID-19 … they should show maturity,” he said

Some victims of the State security agents vitriol in Kadoma said they had been traumatised by the experiences.

“The police and army came into my homestead in Rimuka saying some people had who were on the streets had refuge in our home. When we professed ignorance about that, they started beating everyone in the house. There were two children and three adults and everyone was assaulted,” 62-year-old Tanaka Maganga said.

Another victim, who only identified himself as Talent, said he had gone out to buy vegetables when he was stopped by soldiers who accused him of loitering.

He said they ordered him to lie on the ground and assaulted him, before ordering him to run home.

Merjury Wenyika said she had just disembarked a vehicle from Chakari on her way to Waverly to check on a relative who had fallen sick when she came across four uniformed police officers who took turns to assault her with batons.

“They refused to listen to the reasons why I was outdoors and beat me up before ordering me to run to where I was going without looking back,” she said.

Another resident, who only identified himself as Ras Pompi, said a truck with police and army personnel stopped at Waverly shopping complex, where the security agents indiscriminately assaulted shoppers.

“They also followed those who were running away and tripped them before beating them up. I was at a distance and that is what saved me from the beatings,” he said.

Muchie Chinyanganya, the shadow MP for the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance, bemoaned the brutality saying it concealed the real situation from Mnangagwa and also left a trail of injuries.

“The police and soldiers wanted to make sure that there was no one outside ahead of the visit by ED in the town to assess compliance with the COVID-19 lockdown order,” he said.

Similar incidents have happened in other areas where Mnangagwa visited before, including Harare and Chitungwiza, and citizens across the country have also complained of police and army brutality during patrols to enforce the lockdown order.

Mashonaland West police provincial acting spokesperson Assistant Inspector Ian Kohwera declined to comment.

“You can speak to the national police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner (Paul) Nyathi on that issue,” he said.

Nyathi said: “I have not received reports of the alleged police brutality, but if there is any member of the public who has been assaulted by our deployed security service officers manning the national lockdown, they should feel free to report to any of our police stations in their areas.”

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