Sunday, June 15, 2008
Police officers held over missing ballots
By Clemence Manyukwe
HEADLANDS- Twenty police officers at Headlands police station were detained last week when 31 postal ballot paper applications went missing in an incident that saw law enforcement agents at four stations in Makoni district being summoned for parades and forced to chant ZANU-PF slogans.
Half of the officers are currently detained at Chikurubi Maximum prison.
The Headlands police station officers were detained in their station’s cells before being “screened”, leaving at least 12 facing disciplinary hearings.
The hearings started on Monday under a panel of five officers who include the Deputy Officer Commanding Mutare Rural, Joshua Tigere and the Officer Commanding CID, Rusape District, who was identified only as Chief Superintendent Dube.
Contacted for comment by The Financial Gazette yesterday, Tigere, a former police spokesperson for Manicaland province said: “I no longer comment on press queries, go to our spokesperson. I just presided over the case but you have to contact the spokesperson, he will tell you how I handled the case.”
Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said he was yet to confirm the incident.
Police sources yesterday said some of the officers were severely assaulted following their arrest and one, identified as Muringayi is now walking with the aid of crutches.
After the Headlands incident, the arresting officers proceeded to Rusape, Inyati and Nyazura police stations all in Makoni District where they summoned officers for parades and forced them to chant ZANU-PF songs and slogans.
“The arresting officers said they wanted to knock sense into our heads because we were supporting the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change). They forced us to chant ZANU-PF slogans. Constable Banda of Inyati police station volunteered to resign after refusing to chant ZANU-PF songs,” a police source said.
The names of police officers who were arrested at Headlands police station were given as Wilbert Mushayavanhu, Gerison Gome, and Fidelis Zingwangwa with the rest being identified only as Nhendere, Munetsi, Maruva, Nyamayaro, Mudzuto, Chifamba and Mate.
The checking of applications for postal votes started on June 4 and will close on June 17 when all applications are supposed to reach the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), by noon.
A stilted campaign among armed forces has been launched to ensure that members vote for incumbent President Robert Mugabe in the June 27 election, which pits him against first round winner Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC.
The MDC has complained about ZANU-PF, in collusion with top military generals, going all out to coerce junior members of the army, the police and their spouses to vote for President Mugabe.
The uniformed forces vote two days before June 27 under the supervision of their superiors.