HARARE – A police officer who was filmed assaulting a handcuffed civilian in a video clip televised by British broadcaster Sky News has been arrested.
Sky News reported the violent incident on Saturday and President Emmerson Mnangagwa reacted angrily, saying he was “appalled” by the report showing abuses by security forces in a continuing crackdown.
Mnangagwa immediately “instructed that the individuals behind this be arrested”.
However, the police and information ministry officials initially dismissed the report as being a 2016 video, adding that it was part of the coordinated attack on Zimbabwe by western media.
In a sudden turn of events, the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s national spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, said law enforcement agents had “made inroads into a case of assault by security agents, involving a handcuffed person along Chiremba Road, Harare, as seen in a video clip by Sky News.”
“Earlier reports had indicated that the video was shot in 2016, however upon further clarification from the investigating team it was established that the video was actually shot on Saturday, January 26,” she added.
Charamba said the arrested police officer, named only as Constable Makumire, was on suspension and was not on official duty when he committed the offence. He is seen in the video carrying a backpack and wearing plain clothes.
She said the police force was widening investigations to account for the remaining members of the security services – a uniformed police officer and a member of the Zimbabwe National Army.
Police say the victim seen in the video is a commuter omnibus conductor.
The military and police have been intensifying their crackdown since protests broke out against the government’s fuel price hikes on January 14.
The crackdown by members of the security services left at least 12 people dead and 300 wounded, some injured by gunshots, according to the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights.