In March, a mob attacked police on official duty in Bulawayo and damaged their service vehicle.
Yesterday, another police team enforcing the law was attacked. This means that there have been two major attacks on police in about four months in the city. In both cases, officers were lucky to escape with their lives, but some of them were physically attacked and required hospitalisation.
As we report elsewhere on these pages today, the mob attacked a team of officers after one of them had arrested a kombi driver for operating illegally. The people besieged the police car, damaged its windows and threatened to burn it with the law enforcers locked inside.
Luckily, a reinforcement arrived just on time to save their colleagues and drive away the miscreants.
“As police tried to make an arrest, the driver drove straight at the police and crashed into the passenger door of the police Ford Fiesta,” National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said.
“In the process he drove along Herbert Chitepo Street and drove due north. As he drove away, he was involved in another accident with another vehicle. The driver disembarked from the vehicle and ran on foot and police gave chase and arrested the suspect. As the police tried to take the suspect to their vehicle they were assaulted by a mob. A mob which comprised vendors and money changers freed the suspect. In the process a reaction team was sent from Provincial Headquarters and traffic. They tried to calm the situation but unfortunately the crowd did not take heed and as a result, tear smoke was fired. During this pandemonium that’s when two kombis were discovered to have been put on fire and it’s not clear what happened. But police officers did not throw tear smoke at the two kombis.”
To say we are concerned by this apparent pattern of kombi crews and other criminals beating up police officers who are out there enforcing the law is to understate our response to these incidents. They are unlike us as Zimbabweans, a people who are famously known worldwide as law-abiding and peace-loving.
We unreservedly condemn the gang which attacked the police and urge police to investigate the fracas and bring the culprits to face the full wrath of the law. The criminals must be taught the firm lesson that whatever anger one has, they are bound by the law not to beat up an officer on duty. They must be committed to jail for lengthy periods, sending the message through that a police officer must not, and we emphasise, must not, be attacked.
We think accounting for some of the attackers would not be difficult since some of them were recorded not only baying for blood but also carrying out the attack yesterday.
Noting that there appears to be a pattern emerging of touts, kombi crews and other illegals such as money changers beating up law enforcement agents, we implore officers to remain resolute in their work and refuse to be cowed by criminals. They must be encouraged that a majority of Zimbabweans are with them and want them to do their work without fear of hoodlums attacking them.
The officers must be vigilant too wherever they are enforcing the law.