Linda Masarira, a Zimbabwean politician and current president of the Labour, Economists and African Democrats party (LEAD) has written an open letter to Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga complaining about police brutality on a senior citizen. Below is the letter.
16 October 2020
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Dear CG Matanga,
It is with pain in my heart that I write this letter to you, after learning of the harassment by the police of an elderly woman Editor Mavaza aged 65 residing in Glen View.
The background of the story is that last month in September Editor Mavaza was assaulted by her tenant who is lodging at her house 7988 28th Road Glen View area 8, Harare.
She was assaulted after asking the tenant to vacate her house after 3 months notice had lapsed. The police did not arrest the tenant after she had made a report at ZRP Glen View.
The officer at ZRP Makomva Post in Glenview threatened the complainant and sent her back home where the lodger had remained. The lodger had systematically and continually harassed this old woman taking advantage that she is a widow and her two adult boys died within six months of each other due to unnatural causes.
The tenant refused to pay the outstanding rentals and for the current month of October and is still staying at the house. Out of frustration, the home-owner decided to remove the door of the room which the lodger was using and he reported to the police leading to the arrest of Editor Mavaza.
She was arrested and charged with unlawful eviction of a lodger. Despite the clear fact that the law does not recognise the removal of a door as a crime the police harassed Editor insulted her. One lady police officer told her that if she does not cooperate with the lodger she will rot in cells.
The police denied Editor Mavaza her right to contact her lawyer and access to food and her medication.
Commissioner-General, this woman is a senior citizen who has been harassed by law enforcement agents, denied medication and food, a right to fair trial and was released yesterday without a charge.
The police in order to cover up they told the complainant to make a withdrawal to legitimise their detention of this old lady.
The reason why I am engaging your office, is that it is not the first time that women house owners have approached me for assistance in similar matters in Harare.
The cases are similar in nature where ZRP officials take sides and deny women the right to a fair trial and justice.
In this case, when she reported the assault case it was ignored and that is an issue of gender-based violence which all organs of the state should condemn without fear or favour.
Commissioner General, the detention of Editor Mavaza was unlawful and vindictive. The police used cells to force the poor old lady to allow the abusive lodger to stay at her house where he is not paying rent. The lodger is actually boasting that the police are in his pocket and he will do things his way.
My pain Commissioner-General is that the actions of the police stinks of corruption and I am humbly asking you to institute investigations of all involved officers.
Furthermore, the charge did not warrant a detention denial including being denied her medication and refusal to avail the poor lady to see her lawyer.
I know that you are a man who does not tolerate corruption and abuse of police powers. Please look into this matter and bring justice to this poor old lady.
I have decided to take this case to you for assistance.
Women’s rights are human rights. In anticipation of a favourable response I remain,