Callous cops

Sinqobile Tessa
Callous cops

Our police officers are an overzealous lot.

They have this ‘better than thou’ attitude and are seemingly desperate to always have their presence felt, especially by harassing and intimidating the masses.

The worst, however, are anti-riot police officers better known as Orobai (the ones that beat up). They really do their best to live up to their indigenous name whenever on duty!

As the lockdown continues, they have again forced their way into the spotlight, firstly because they seem to think they are immune to Covid-19 and secondly for harassing people unnecessarily. I was their victim on Saturday – I will get to that shortly.

They man the roadblocks without masks and no water to wash their hands yet regular washing of hands and sanitizing, as I’m sure you’re all aware in Botswana, is currently the in thing.

They insist on social distancing and that there should not be more than five people in a small vehicle yet you see them crammed like sardines into their own cars.

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While their efforts of ensuring the rules and regulations of lockdown are adhered to, they should bear in mind that they are not super beings and are just as susceptible to this deadly virus.

But anyway I guess it boils down to poor governance as the government has not availed the protective clothing and hand sanitizers for their use.

That aside, it is their behavior that sucks the most.

On Friday – Day 5 of Zim’s lockdown – they were widely condemned for rounding up scores of people in the Central Business District (CBD) of Bulawayo, bundling them into their huge trucks and taking them to the central police station. The crime of these people was that their reasons for being in town were not convincing enough.

The cops behavior defeated the whole purpose of social distancing as the police station yard became overcrowded with people sitting very close to each other.

On Saturday, they thought they had found another person to throw into their yard. However, they were left with eggs on their faces.

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While driving in town, my husband and I came across a group of police officers at a traffic light where they had blocked a car pulling a trailer with firewood.

I took out my mobile phone, ready to snap one or two pictures and to shoot a video.

Unfortunately one of the officers, who I had not noticed on the other side of the road, quickly alerted his colleagues and they speedily came round our car, ready to beat up and even arrest us and me in particular.

They went ballistic, swearing and threatening me for taking their pictures, while angrily emphasizing that we would be taken to the police station for being in the CBD.

We let them bark for a while so they could feel powerful before finally producing our pass from the police in our farming area which confirmed that we are famers and allowed to travel to buy stock-feed. I could feel their tails slowly rescinding back between their legs.

The final nail in their coffin of humiliation was when I revealed that I was a journalist and allowed to travel and take pictures. When I took out my press card, they were gobsmacked!

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Their silly threats were in vain but the incident made me realise that our police officers still have a long way to go to understand that intimidation is no way to deal with people, especially in these unprecedented, frightening times.

They need to take a chill pill, as some would say in street lingo!

*Sadly, the country recorded its second Covid-19 related death this week. According to a statement by the Ministry of Health, the deceased, a 79-year-old man from Bulawayo, visited Hwange National Park in mid March.

A few days later he fell ill and never recovered, eventually succumbing to the virus on Saturday. Currently, Zimbabwe has 11 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (not including the two fatalities).

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