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BULAWAYO mayor, Martin Moyo has appealed to residents and vendors to stop fighting municipal police officers, saying they are not enemies, but only trying to maintain order in the central business district.
Bulawayo municipal police have engaged in running battles with vendors, some turning violent, resulting in others being hospitalised after suffering injuries.
Last week, municipal police reportedly beat a handcuffed vendor, Mark Chibanda, until he became unconscious. He had to be rushed to the United Bulawayo Hospitals.
Moyo, however, absolved municipal police of any wrongdoing in the matter, saying investigations had established that Chibanda was the aggressor.
“We did our investigations and the vendor was the aggressor. He punched a municipal police officer before he was cuffed. He then suffered a seizure. They did not beat him until he became unconscious,” he said yesterday in a telephone interview.
“We want to manage the vendors. Municipal police do not want to fight the vendors, but the vendors always attack our police. It’s even worse when they are conducting raids near illegal pick-up points, as touts tend to incite each other to beat our police.
“We appeal for sanity as municipal police have become targets of attack. People have been made to believe that our municipal police are against the vendors, yet it is the other way round. They are ganging up against municipal police.”
Two months ago, another vendor was rushed to hospital after he was struck by a car while fleeing municipal police along Robert Mugabe Way.
An angry mob attacked the council cop, who had been chasing the vendor soon after the incident.
In December last year, a Bulawayo man was hospitalised following an assault by Bulawayo municipal police, who mistook him for a vendor.
Isaiah Jonga, the director for Bulawayo Entrepreneurs Association, yesterday said municipal police were aggressive towards vendors, and called on the local authority to rein them in to avert violent fight-backs.
“We are totally against such brutal attacks on fellow citizens. Where are they getting the powers to beat fellow citzens?” he commented
“The municipal police are not above the law they must respect the national Constitution. Turning a blind eye on such matters will lead to chaotic situations, as vendors cannot fold their hands when municipal police are taking law into their hands.” source-newsday