Residents of Chinhoyi were on Sunday left seething with anger after police indiscriminately deployed tear-smoke in the populous Chikonohono township, forcing a group of mourners to desert a funeral in a hurry.
The mourners were gathered near a block of tuck shops at Pfungwa Dzakanaka shopping centre.
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A Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) patrol team aboard an unidentified white Honda Fit vehicle threw teargas canisters in a bid to disperse residents allegedly breaching the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown and curfew regulations.
The mobile patrol officers never bothered to enquire why people were gathering at the house and neither did they give a prior warning for the crowd to disperse before throwing teargas.
Under the enhanced Level 4 lockdown measures, funeral gatherings are limited to just 30 people and also curfew rules in place prohibit the movement of people between 6.30 pm and 6 am.
A resident, Tanaka Mururi reported his family had been affected by the “reckless” police conduct. He said:
Guys, I have noted with concern police are randomly spraying teargas at Pfungwa Dzakanaka shopping centre. My concern is the gas is affecting innocent people who are indoors.
It’s true, my cousin sister just called me asking what help she could render children who were blinded and were choking as a result of the teargas. These kids were in the house watching TV.
Mashonaland West provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Margaret Chitove professed ignorance over the incident, before promising to investigate the matter and issue a statement.
Thereafter, Insp Chitove repeatedly snubbed NewZimbabwe.com, insisting she was still digging for information.
Chinhoyi mayor, Councillor Garikai Dendera, who witnessed the incident, deplored the police action, describing it as unprofessional.