TSHOLOTSHO police in Matabeleland North have allegedly imposed a “curfew” around the business centre where they force shops to close at 7pm and harass and beat up villagers seen walking around the area.
The “curfew” was allegedly imposed after thieves broke into Mvundlana Primary School and Thabani Store owned by Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Cain Mathema a fortnight ago.
Following the burglaries, Tsholotsho villagers said they had endured a week of beatings and harassment by the cops with some saying they were being left with no option but to retaliate to protect themselves.
Some angry villagers confronted the Tsholotsho Centre Police officer-in-charge, one Assistant Inspector Muza to lodge their complaints and to warn the cops about carrying out further harassment and beatings.
“We are saying we cannot live in fear of harassment and beatings anymore. We have suffered enough and we will not fold our hands and allow them to continue harassing us. We have no option, but to form resistance groups to protect ourselves,” a villager Gugulethu Mpofu angrily told Southern Eye.
Other villagers said the beatings and harassment invoked horrific memories of Gukurahundi, especially to the elderly as some soldiers deployed in the district to assist flood victims allegedly helped the police to beat up villagers found outside their houses after 7pm.
Another villager Herbert Mpofu, who is also the Bulawayo Agenda chairperson for the district, confirmed the “curfew” and condemned the beatings as inhumane and barbaric.
“They (police) are so barbaric and inhumane. They have no sense of shame as they were even targeting the old or maybe it’s because most of them are not from Tsholotsho. Scores of people have endured beatings and people are angry,” said Mpofu.
“We had a meeting with the police on Friday to register our anger. We were told that there is no operation to beat up villagers but it was maybe the work of a few individuals abusing their authority when conducting patrols,” Mpofu said yesterday.
Simon Ncube said they were shocked and disappointed at the latest developments.
Matabeleland North provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Siphiwe Makonese yesterday said her office had neither received reports of burglaries at Mathema’s Thabani Store and Mvundlana Primary School nor the harassment and beatings of villagers.
Mathema refused to comment when contacted by Southern Eye yesterday.
“Tshiyana lami (leave me alone). I have no comment,” Mathema said.