THE handling of the case of the Johane Masowe weChishanu Apostolic members accused of assaulting police officers and journalists has again raised questions about the law enforcement agencies’ commitment to constitutionalism.
Twenty four members of the Harare-based sect accused of abusing women and children have been arrested so far following the bloody incident that took place in Budiriro, Harare, last Friday. Police say the leader of the sect identified as madzibaba Ishmael Mufani has gone into hiding.
His 24 followers facing public violence charges appeared in court on Tuesday under armed police escort and in leg irons. They all claimed that police fired rifles in the air during their arrest. The suspects told the court that they were tortured and denied food while in custody.
Images of the sect members, clad in white bashing police officers, journalists and members of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ), typified a nation descending into anarchy.
However, this does not warrant the torture of suspects whose link to the crime can only be ascertained by a competent court of law.
The animalistic behaviour by the sect members also did not give police officers the right to lead Zanu PF youths in a demonstration in Budiriro that resulted in the destruction of property at Mufani’s shrine.
Pictures of a grinning police officer leading a Zanu PF mob are all over social networks and the damage they cause to the Zimbabwe Republic Police brand is irreparable. Questions are also being asked about the role played by police in the ACCZ clampdown on the sect.
Instead of moving in swiftly to investigate cases of abuse against women and children, the police were sheepishly hiding behind Johannes Ndanga’s ACCZ outfit before members of the anti-riot squad were bashed by the church men.
The alleged abuse of women and children has now been overshadowed by the violence, which could have been avoided if police had not become hostage to political and religious interests.
The Vapostori saga has not only exposed lack of professionalism in the police force, but a worrying disregard for the country’s laws and the Constitution.
Torture of suspects in custody and uniformed police officers taking part in a violent demonstration is criminal.