By Nkululeko Sibanda
SIX police officers accused of savagely beating up two Bulawayo women they accused of violating lockdown regulations failed to appear in court yesterday after their victims accused law enforcement agents of trying to cover up the crime.
Sisters Nokuthula and Ntombizodwa Mpofu from Cowdray Park claimed they there were handcuffed, assaulted and insulted by the police officers who called them prostitutes on April 16.
The women said the police officers uttered tribal slurs during the torture.
Police officers identified as Tichaona Zariro, Christabel Munyondo, Elizabeth Denhere, Patson Gumoreyi, Zibusiso Masuku and Simbarashe Bvekwa were arrested on Friday and were expected to appear at the Western Commonage Magistrate Courts.
But the women’s lawyers Nqobani Sithole and Zibusiso Ncube asked the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure proper investigations were done before the case was brought to court.
“The matter was not heard in court solely because the police were yet to conduct real investigations into the barbaric act against the two women from Cowdray Park,” Sithole said.
“What we have, which we objected to, was a simple case of a senior police officer instructing his juniors to ‘arrest’ all those that were on duty in the particular area on the day in question.
“We are aware that there were seven officers on duty on the night in question and the arrest of the six raises more questions than answers.”
Sithole said a Superintendent Masimba who was allegedly part of the group that assaulted the women had not been arrested under unclear circumstances.
“When we approached the investigating officer in this matter, he simply told us that he had been instructed to arrest those that were on duty,” he said.
“We have since gathered that there is another officer, a Superintendent Masimba, who was also there as part of the district reaction grouping.
“He was conspicuous by his absence from the six. So we did question how the decision to arrive at these six was arrived at, considering that there is also a seventh member.”
Sithole said the women would demand a parade of the officers that had been taken into custody to identify those behind the assault.