by Idris Chaibhu
“Uthango ludla amakhomane” is a common Ndebele wise saying that spells out the cry of the Bulawayo residents who are regularly falling prey to poorly executed police patrols. More is required from our uniformed forces to regain public trust after a public transport operator was allegedly torched by the police who threw tear gas from the window of a kombi and fled the scene upon realizing that they had started a fire. A number of spot witnesses confirmed that the vehicles were merely dropping people off when the police set them ablaze by throwing tear gas inside the Kombi carrying passengers causing a stampede and great commotion. A vendor who didn’t disclose her name for security reasons witnessed this injustice and spoke angrily that the police officers had stormed some Touts as it is the norm blocking the kombis and one of the unfortunate drivers bumped into the police vehicle. The driver was now grounded, he took off on foot running away and the police chased after him and he was caught as this was happening, close-by money-changers took it upon themselves to reprimand the police as they freed the driver. The police officers called for reinforcement and immediately another vehicle came to the scene. Other witnesses confirmed that it shifted from a police patrol to a fight against the civilians.
In an interview with one of the drivers, he expressed great pain, that just after dropping a pregnant woman in a nearby surgery just a block away from where the incident occurred, he saw people signaling that he should turn, he delayed as utterly confused on what was happening and suddenly after turning to avert the commotion the police officer threw teargas through the open back window and the seats caught fire immediately. He cited that, his vision was now impaired, and could hardly see as the car was moving. If it wasn’t for the nearby tree with which he collided, he would have plunged into people or oncoming traffic and the car was already burning. That is how they managed to kick the front window and escape with other passengers, women, and children involved.
However, the Zimbabwe Republic Police denied the allegations and the remarks made by the National Police spokesperson Commissioner Paul Nyathi through the Chronicle newspaper highlighted that, “the Kombis were discovered to be set on fire and its not clear what happened and the police officers did not throw teargases to the two kombis ”, which is rather allegedly to be false.