Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
GOVERNMENT does not tolerate abuse of citizens by uniformed forces enforcing Covid-19 lockdown measures and those who violate the law must be reported to authorities, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana has said.
There have been allegations of isolated cases of soldiers and police officers allegedly beating up those violating lockdown measures.
Some police officers are also accused of demanding bribes, especially at roadblocks.
Mr Mangwana, in an interview after touring radio stations in Gweru — ZBC’s 95.4 FM and AB Communications’ 98.4FM — said people must not be assaulted by members of the security forces enforcing the Covid-19 lockdown regulations such as the curfew.
He said laws must be enforced in a humane manner.
“We have laws that are supposed to be implemented. President Mnangagwa recently said there is a complainants mechanism to be publicised for people to report abuse by law enforcers. He also said lockdown measures should be implemented in a humane way so that’s the way we want it to be. But in all situations, there are always excesses. That’s natural. American soldiers in Baghdad, Iraq, Afghanistan, were reported to have used excessive force and this happens in any situation where people are involved,” said Mr Mangwana.
He said as long as the abuses are not institutionalised, they can be dealt with accordingly with perpetrators facing the full wrath of the law.
“As long as the whole excesses are not institutionalised, as long as they don’t have a backing of the authorities, they can be dealt with. These include where people are made to sing, do frog jumps, made to roll in the mud, that’s not it, those are abuses and the Government does not tolerate abuse of its citizens. People are not supposed to be beaten up. If one commits a crime, she/ he is supposed to be arrested and not assaulted. The law enforcement officers are supposed to enforce, they are allowed to make you turn back and arrest you but not to assault you and force you to do exercises as punishment,” he said.
Mr Mangwana said Government is aware that some police officers were demanding bribes, especially at roadblocks.
“Corruption is there from way back when we used to see a lot of roadblocks and these are the same officers. Roadblocks have been mounted all over particularly for Covid-19 but unfortunately, we have police officers who want to rip off motorists who see roadblocks as a bank queue to collect money. It’s not a bank queue and its corruption,” he said.
“President Mnangagwa hates corruption so all this nonsense you hear that we are in cahoots with corruption is absolutely nonsense because this Government is fighting corruption, whether it’s at a roadblock or anywhere.”