ZLHR: A Caution against Mob Justice and a Call for Professionalism

via ZLHR: A Caution against Mob Justice and a Call for Professionalism June 3, 2014

Press Statement
3 June 2014


Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is monitoring with mounting concern the events of the last few days relating to church members affiliated to the Johane Masowe weChishanu (JMC) apostolic sect and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

Media houses have extensively covered the unfolding fiasco, triggered on Friday 30 May 2014 when leaders of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) allegedly sought to ban followers of the JMC apostolic sect from a shrine for alleged gross violations of women’s and children’s rights with the assistance of the ZRP. This intervention appears to have triggered the first incident of mob justice against the police and journalists who were caught up in the melee.

Almost immediately a number of sect members were arrested; 26 are currently detained. The magistrate has since directed that they be medically treated for injuries sustained in police custody.

On Monday 2 June 2014, the media captured members allegedly aligned to ZANU PF, fortified by uniformed ZRP details, executing retributive mob justice when they descended on and vandalised the JMC apostolic sect shrine.

ZLHR unreservedly condemns the initial violent attacks on Friday on members of the ZRP and media practitioners; the alleged indiscriminate arrest and detention of suspected perpetrators of these attacks over the weekend; the retaliatory mob violence, arson and destruction of property on Monday; as well as the condonation of – if not open support provided by – uniformed members of the ZRP during this latest incident of mob justice and captured by the media for all to see.

Violence, in any form, and by any member of our society must be condemned by all law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of the country. It has no place whatsoever in a community that embraces the constitutional ethos of peace, respect for fundamental human rights, freedoms and human dignity.

Too often in the past and present have we witnessed organisations and individuals who consider themselves to be above the law utilising the coercive power of state institutions to pursue their own selfish, unlawful and corrupt objectives. This is the reason why wide-ranging reforms were introduced in our new Constitution. Section 208 of the Constitution provides that the police, as part of the security services of Zimbabwe, must not act in a partisan manner, must not further the interests of any political party, and must ensure that they are non-partisan and professional in executing their duties at all times.

Where some members of the police allow themselves to be abused, and where they disregard all professionalism and ethics to the extent of providing an escort to a violent mob that perpetrates crimes such as arson and malicious injury to property, it is very clear that such police have violated their constitutional obligations and action needs to be taken against them. It is when disciplinary action is not taken, and where prosecutions do not occur, that citizens will begin to lose respect for legitimate authority and resort to self-help and mob justice.

Professionalism and mob justice therefore are intricately linked, and where one (professionalism) is not enforced, the other (mob justice) dangerously takes centre-stage.

For this reason, ZLHR strongly believes that leadership is required – at the most senior levels within the ZRP and the National Prosecuting Authority – to stem this danger and do so quickly.

ZLHR calls upon the ZRP to exercise restraint, maintain professionalism, and ensure that any investigations and arrests for the violent acts are carried out in the most professional and transparent manner, although allegations of ill-treatment in police custody have already been officially recorded.

The ZRP leadership must take concrete steps to ensure that members are not politicised and that there is zero tolerance for illegal acts and police complicity in criminal acts such as those witnessed on 2 June 2014.

ZLHR further calls upon the Police Service Commission to intervene and ensure that members of the ZRP comply with Section 208 of the Constitution, which stipulates that they must act in accordance with the country’s Constitution and the law in the execution of their duties.

At the same time, ZLHR calls on the Prosecutor General to ensure that the ZRP are fully aware of, and respect, their constitutional obligations in investigating and preparing cases, and that evidence for purposes of prosecution is professionally gathered without resort to assault, torture, or other corrupt practices, or inhuman or degrading treatment in order to ensure the integrity of such prosecutions and public acceptance of such processes.

What is of further and deep concern is that these chaotic incidents have effectively prevented a critical and necessary focus on, and investigation of, two issues that are of deep concern to all right-thinking people in society. The first, is the questionable legal/judicial authority under which the ACCZ sought to execute a ban on the shrine with the assistance of members of the ZRP. The second is the disturbing allegations of violations perpetrated against women and children.

ZLHR is of the opinion that, for as long as this anarchic behaviour persists, and the ZRP and National Prosecuting Authority do not take action as called for above, these two issues that go to the very core of rule of law and the protection of women and children, will be sidelined.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
6th Floor, Beverley Court
100 Nelson Mandela Avenue
Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone+263 4 764085/705370/708118
Email: info@zlhr.org.zw
Web: www.zlhr.org.zw
Twitter: @ZLHRLawyers
Facebook: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights



  • comment-avatar
    Charles Chamunorwa 8 years ago

    ZRP does not understand the rule of law and constitutionalism. All they know are Zanu pf slogans

  • comment-avatar

    On a farm in Beit bridge they (ZRP BBRIDGE)have stood by as farm workers, their wives and children were beaten, a child as young as 18 months was beaten and her 4 year old brother ran away into the bush where elephant and hyena roam….it took some hours for him to be found….all this condoned by the very same people who take an oath to serve and protect and who receive wages frm tax payers……they have also publically stated that they will be the legal advisors for the invaders of the same farm??????????They seem to have a vested interest, could it be that they are personally benefitting? Would be interesting to investigate this????? No we the people of Zimbabwe deserve better service from ZRP……funny how the Inspector Rural has grown about 5 sizes bigger since the initial invasion last October??????Are they serving and protecting we the people of Zimbabwe, as witnessed over the past 14 years for all race and tribe in Zim, the guess would be a resounding NO

  • comment-avatar
    Petal 8 years ago

    Lawlessness personified

  • comment-avatar
    vovonde 8 years ago

    The ZRP know where their bread is buttered, it would appear , their mindset is like a dog, always loyal and ready to serve its master. Everyone else doesn’t matter.
    This reminds me of my encouter with a black soldier serving with the Rhodesian Army(1976) who swore that he would not salute to the late Bishop Abel Muzorewa even though he was the co-prime minister of the then Zimbabwe Rhodesia. When I asked him why, his reoly was “because Muzorewa was a black African like him

    • comment-avatar
      roving ambassador. 8 years ago

      If your organisation could please represent Madzibaba, injustice is being carried out. open a trustee account and give us the number so we can throw in a few cents for the legal fees. I think most of us would love to help.