Human Rights Forum Calls For Heads To Roll After Police Shoot Two Dead In Kombi Row

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has called for the arrest and prosecution of law enforcement officers who were involved in the shooting of civilians on Thursday night, following the ban on commuter omnibuses (kombis) from entering the central business district (CBD). Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga confirmed that two people had died after being shot by the police, although he did not say what was going to happen to the officers.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has called for heads to roll not only at the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) but at the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Local Government as well. In a statement, the forum said:

The events of 22 February 2018 must be condemned in the strongest of terms and persons responsible prosecuted.

The Forum also deplores the use of the military in civilian matters. Section 208 (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, clearly states that security services must not “violate fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.” All the security services should be a service and not a force; protect and secure the lives and property of the people and not be perpetrators of violence. The Forum equally places the blame on the responsible Ministries of Home Affairs and Local Government respectively, who are the authors and proponents of this tragic policy directive that has resulted in the killing of innocent Zimbabweans. The Forum believes that where there is such a level of violation of human rights especially resulting in loss of lite, heads must roll.

As a matter of priority, the Government of Zimbabwe must urgently attend to the needs of the victims and survivors of the unfortunate incident to ensure that appropriate reparations are provided. Likewise, it is incumbent upon the Government of Zimbabwe Law to ensure that the errant law enforcement officers involved its the incident are held accountable.

Here is the full statement:

STATEMENT ON THE KILLING OF CIVILIANS FOLLOWING THE BAN ON COMMUTER OMNIBUSES FROM ENTERING THE HARARE CBD

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, (the Forum) notes with sadness the untimely deaths of two (2) people (1 male and 1 female) that were shot by a police officer in Harare. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased. It is disappointing to note that this needless loss of life was brought about as a result of the chaotic manner in which the Harare City Council (HCC) executed its order to ban commuter omnibuses from operating from the Central Business District (CBD) with effect from 21 of February 2018.

In pursuance of this clampdown against commuter omnibuses, the HCC engaged members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) to enforce the order. It is the purported attempt by one member of the ZRP to enforce the HCC’s order that resulted in the deaths of three (3) people who succumbed to gunshot wounds after the police officer opened fire needlessly and recklessly.

The Forum notes with regret that the Harare City Council with the complicity of the ZRP seems determined to continue on a legacy of violation of human rights. Calling to mind the displacement of 700 000 people during Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, and the series of violent onslaughts against vendors which continue to this day, it is critical to commence a dialogue on the process of accountability regarding the unholy alliance between the ZRP and the HCC. The events of 22 February 2018 must be condemned in the strongest of terms and persons responsible prosecuted.

The Forum also deplores the use of the military in civilian matters. Section 208 (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, clearly states that security services must not “violate fundamental rights and freedoms of any person.” All the security services should be a service and not a force; protect and secure the lives and property of the people and not be perpetrators of violence. The Forum equally places the blame on the responsible Ministries of Home Affairs and Local Government respectively, who are the authors and proponents of this tragic policy directive that has resulted in the killing of innocent Zimbabweans. The Forum believes that where there is such a level of violation of human rights especially resulting in loss of lite, heads must roll.

A thorough investigation must be launched in order to ascertain exactly what transpired both at policy-making and enforcement levels. Noting that the violation of human rights by security services in Zimbabwe has become a culture, we wish to reiterate the need for the Government of Zimbabwe to urgently set up and capacitate the independent complaints mechanism meant to receive complaints from the public concerning the conduct of security services, provided for its terms of Section 210 of the Constitution.

As a matter of priority, the Government of Zimbabwe must urgently attend to the needs of the victims and survivors of the unfortunate incident to ensure that appropriate reparations are provided. Likewise, it is incumbent upon the Government of Zimbabwe Law to ensure that the errant law enforcement officers involved its the incident are held accountable.

The Forum remains committed to the fight against impunity and to the struggle for the protection and promotion of human rights in Zimbabwe. It is our conviction that government policies and personnel should serve the people. We urge the city authorities to conduct proper public consultations before formulating and implementing policies. We hope that the government will heed our call to safeguard against the loss of innocent lives and to ensure that our country will not witness a tragedy like this ever again.

Member organisations 
• Amnesty International- Zimbabwe • Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe • Civic Education Network Trust • Counseling Services Unit • Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe • Justice for Children • Legal Resources Foundation • Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Media Monitors • Non-violent Action and Strategies for Social Change • Research and Advocacy Unit Students Solidarity Trust • Transparency International • Zimbabwe VERITAS • Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) • Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and rehabilitation of the Offender • Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights • Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust • Zimbabwe Human Rights Association • Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights