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BULAWAYO police on Thursday assaulted freelance journalist, Crispen Ndlovu, who was taking photographs of skirmishes between ZRP officers and commuter omnibus operators.
The skirmishes resulted in most of the commuter omnibus operators suspending operations in protest of what they called constant harassment and extortion from traffic police.
The strike left thousands of commuters stranded with most of them failing to travel to their workplaces.
The city’s central commuter omnibus rank, Basch Street terminus, was cordoned off by police who prevented commuter omnibuses from gaining access.
Ndlovu told NewZimbabwe.com that he was taking photographs when he was approached by some police officers who demanded to know why he was taking the pictures.
“I told the police officers that I am a photojournalist and produced my valid press card but they claimed it does not work,” he narrated.
Ndlovu said one of the police officers demanded to see the pictures he had taken but when he refused to hand over his camera he was beaten with a baton on his back.
After that Ndlovu was detained for about 20 minutes before he was released.
According to witnesses, the skirmishes started when two police officers were reportedly assaulted by touts and drivers after they had attempted to arrest them.
The cops wanted to impound a commuter omnibus which was picking up passengers at an undesignated pick up point.
In an act of revenge police details descended on Basch Street terminus to hunt of the touts who had assaulted the police officers, resulting in running battles between police and commuter omnibus operators.
Operators who spoke to this publication said the police officers who are manning road blocks have become a law unto themselves.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) condemned the police action.
ZUJ Secretary General, Foster Dongozi, said some members of the police were contributing to the negative portrayal of the country.
“What they did today (assaulting Ndlovu) and what they did by arresting the Sunday Mail journalists over a poaching story is a further confirmation that they are bent on negatively portraying the country.
“We call upon them to concentrate on catching real criminals not journalists,” Dongozi said.This is not the first time that Ndlovu has been assaulted by police officers while on duty.
He was once beaten for taking pictures of police officers who were assaulting a suspected mobile phone thief.source-newzimbabwe