In its report of the Shutdown Zimbabwe protest, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) said that eyewitnesses told it the Makoni Police station was only attacked after police allegedly shot and killed a man among the protestors. The 22-year-old, Tinashe Choto, was shot in the head.
The report, which criticizes the heavy-handed response to protests by the police, says:
Unfortunately the disturbances have led to a number of deaths of civilians and a police officer. Whilst the Commission’s investigations are still in progress some facts have since been verified. For example, a 22 year old young man, Tinashe Choto died as a result of gun shots and was buried on Saturday 19 January 2019. A post mortem report read to family members by the authorities confirmed the cause of death as gun shots.
Eye witnesses confirmed that the young man was shot near Makoni Police station during a face-off between the protesters and law enforcement agents. This is what incensed the protesters leading to the attack of Makoni Police Station.
At the police station, the ZHRC says the guardrooms were set on fire and the windows were broken by protesters. At least 6 cars and 3 buses in the yard of the police station were burnt.
The ZHRC also says in its report that it seems the Police currently don’t have the capacity to deal with riots and they are therefore using “brute, excessive and disproportionate force in most circumstances thereby causing avoidable loss of life and also worsening the situation.
ZHRC is an organization created by section 242 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe to protect, promote and enforce human rights and freedoms in the country.
Before the family of Choto knew he had been killed, social media in Zimbabwe was circulating a photo of his battered body lying on the Makoni police station reception counter. The angry protesters had left him there.
Image: Associated Press