Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
AT least 26 people have been arrested following the riots that rocked central Harare on Wednesday, while the death toll has risen to six after three more people succumbed to their injuries yesterday.
Among those arrested is former Harare South legislator Shadreck Mashayamombe, while 18 others were picked up at Harvest House in Harare.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said at a press conference yesterday that several shops and cars were damaged during the riots.
She dismissed social media reports that the police were no longer keen on interviewing MDC Alliance principal Mr Tendai Biti, saying he was still on the police wanted list.
“Our investigations have established that the number of deaths, and it is really regrettable and unfortunate, has risen to six as three of the victims succumbed to injuries while seeking medical attention at various hospitals,” said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
“We deeply express our condolences as the ZRP. Fourteen people were also injured during the skirmishes and some of them are admitted at local hospitals.
“We believe that there could be others who were injured, but have not yet reported, if there are any they can also report. A total of 22 shops were damaged in Harare during the skirmishes.”
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said seven cars were set on fire, while eight cars had their wind screens damaged.
“At the Simon Muzenda commuter rank, the youths who were visibly drunk, went to Zanu-PF provincial headquarters and completely set ablaze the following; a Nissan Hardbody Wolf, a Ford Ranger, Toyota Allion, Yutong Bus, Mazda Capella, a Mini Cooper and a Honda Fit,” she said.
“Police investigations also revealed that a total of 4 000 MDC Alliance supporters, some of whom were wearing party T-shirts, holding placards and singing political songs besieged the CBD. The majority of the rioters were armed with iron bars, stones, knobkerries and logs as they moved and in the process they attacked people, overturned bins, set on fire cardboard boxes and disused tyres.
“They totally blocked the smooth flow of traffic.”
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said the 18 people were arrested at MDC Alliance headquarters and were found locked up in two separate rooms.
“The police strongly condemn the use of alcohol and drugs that characterised events prior to the riots that rocked the country yesterday,” she said. “We also want to make it categorically clear that political leaders were also irresponsible in that they allowed their supporters to assault journalists.
“We are appealing to political party leaders to stop continuously issuing statements that are inflammatory and incite violence and we urge supporters themselves to maintain peace, law and order. If there are any disputes, we encourage political party leaders to follow laid down procedures or approach the courts for redress.”
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said the police and other security agencies were on the ground in Harare to maintain law and order.