Highlanders have condemned the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) for the manner in which the police force handled crowd trouble during the club’s Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) match against FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium on Saturday.
The match was abandoned after Highlanders fans invaded the pitch in anger over the awarding of a second-half penalty to the hosts when the scoreline was 1-1.
Police responded by throwing tear smoke toward fans causing a near-stampede which endangered the lives of fans.
Highlanders have since issued a statement criticising the police for allegedly failing to handle the violence properly. Read the statement:
Highlanders Football Club would like to condemn in the strongest sense, the conduct of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers who were entrusted with the responsibility to provide security during a Premier Soccer League match between FC Platinum and Highlanders at Mandava Stadium on Saturday.
The club understands ZRP to be a stakeholder of the game whose mandate is to provide security for players, officials and fans.
The violent and thuggish behaviour by ZRP towards fans and players cannot be tolerated as it brings our football into disrepute.
Whilst the club does not condone pitch invasion and missile throwing by a section of football fans, it was unnecessary for ZRP to throw tear smoke toward fans as this behaviour ended up affecting players, officials and some innocent fans.
The act was against the basic principles of crowd management and as a result, the victims were players and officials who ZRP purported to protect.
As if that was not enough, ZRP further went on a rampage, assaulting innocent fans outside the stadium and in some instances beating up vehicles they perceived to be belonging to, and ferrying Highlanders fans.
The club takes this opportunity to assure its members, fans and all other stakeholders of its commitment to its values of Ubuntu, which encompasses such ethics as respect for self and respect for others, hence further commitment to engage all other stakeholders, ZRP included, in trying to bring to an end hooliganism and violence in the stadia.
We further take this opportunity to empathize with all the innocent victims of yesterday’s acts of violence and condemn a few individuals who were involved in the acts of pitch invasion and missile throwing.