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Illicit CP - May 2009

Corpun file 22856 (SW Radio Africa News, "The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe"), London, 29 May 2009

Shocking video shows Zimbabwe police beating recruits

By Tichaona Sibanda

Still from the videoSW Radio Africa has obtained exclusive video footage showing a number of police recruits in Zimbabwe being tortured and beaten in a series of sickening assaults by what appears to be their instructors.

In one horrifying attack, a recruit is pinned down by six officers with one stepping on his back as laughing instructors whip and kick the defenseless man. The recruit can be heard screaming while one officer shouts, 'wuraya' (kill him). Other officers are also heard shouting 'castrate him,' and 'step on his throat.'

Screaming recruits are also seen being wrestled to the ground and held down while laughing officers kick and beat them with baton sticks.

The footage shockingly depicts the recruits as they lie screaming on the floor of what appears to be the Morris Depot training camp in Harare.

The footage is believed to have been filmed in the last two months in Harare. A voice supposedly that of one of the instructors can also be heard bellowing out instructions to the assailants.

'The syllabus has now changed. We now call this syllabus E,' the officer can be heard saying, probably referring to the practice of beatings.

Surprisingly, it was a police officer who made the film, and others can be seen in the video using their mobile phones to capture the beatings. Taurayi Chamboko, a police constable with the Bedfordshire Constabulary in the UK told us the officers in the footage would have faced serious charges of brutality and human rights abuses in the UK.

"In the UK it is illegal for an instructor to have physical contact with a recruit unless they are going through certain tactical drills where contact is unavoidable," PC Chamboko said.

Human rights activists say police brutality is deeply entrenched in Zimbabwean life. Dewa Mavhinga, a human rights lawyer said all Zimbabweans should condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutality being meted out on recruits, which is not only a violation of human rights, but more importantly, an outright crime in terms of the country's laws.

"A police officer is someone in a contract of employment, so what employer has a right to brutally assault employees? The Zimbabwe government must immediately investigate this crime and arrest anyone found to have been involved in these dastardly, inhuman and degrading acts," Mavhinga said.

He added: "It's unfortunate that in a country gripped by lawlessness such cruel beatings may even be viewed as normal. That goes to show the state to which Zimbabwe has been reduced."

Isaac Dziya, a retired assistant commissioner with the ZRP described the beatings as 'shocking,' and said such things should not be happening under a new unity government.

Dziya said torture in Zimbabwe is now 'routine,' and exerted on anybody whether in political or criminal cases, and the police don't really feel any shame in practicing it because they are taught the subject as a syllabus.


There are several versions of the video material to which the above article refers. This one (1 minute 50 seconds) is the longest version I have found. Some viewers may feel that the text above is a little exaggerated when it talks of "sickening assaults" and "horrifying attacks", and especially of "torture", a word nowadays tossed around too lightly; and that what is seen here is too hasty and casual, and ultimately not brutal enough, to be so described. Most of the recipients get five rather moderate-looking whacks across the buttocks with a thick stick. That is not to say that the behaviour shown is defensible, but it does not seem all that serious in comparison with other abuses, up to and including mass murder, that have been going on in Zimbabwe, where the rule of law has collapsed since independence and the police are a law unto themselves, according to such sources as the US State DepartmentEXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window.


IMPORTANT: Copyright in this video material rests with the original copyright holders. This brief excerpt is reproduced under the "fair use" doctrine EXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window for private, non-profit, historical research and education purposes only. It must not be redistributed or republished in any commercial context.

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