Vendor Killed In Chaotic Mbare Clashes, Municipal, Riot Police Overpowered

Harare Municipal Police, who instigated the riot in Mbare yesterday, are seen here no Friday raiding Fourth Street Bus Terminus in the City Centre. Yesterday, they were in Mbare, where one vendor at the open ground opposite Mupedzanhamo Market died while fleeing from them. This prompted one of the worst riots ever seen in Zimbabwe, with residents fighting running battles with riot police for hours despite having teargas thrown at them

Harare, Zimbabwe, 10 November 2009

The crackdown by the overzealous and under-qualified Harare Municipal Police has now claimed the life of a vendor in Mbare.

Godfrey Tonde, who was 25 years old, fell down while fleeing Municipal police, who fell upon him soon afterwards. It is not clear whether he was dead before they fell upon him or he died as a result of their physical action.

All the same, residents in Mbare, a teeming high-density area of the capital of Zimbabwe, took up arms immediately after word spread that Tonde had died. The residents blocked Remembrance Drive, which leads into the city centre and started stoning vehicles and the police. As happened last week at Roadport, along Fourth Street, riot police were called and they also got what-for from the residents, who fought running battles with them using stones, sticks and anything they could find.

The riot police managed to control the situation with some difficulty, but when Tonde's body was removed Council offices near the main Mbare Market, residents who saw it started another riot.

They went after the police, attacking the one truck that had been sent into the area to contain the situation. Riot police were overpowered in this latest surge and they had to call for reinforcements. This latest battle lasted pretty much all day.

Police reinforcements had to use tear gas to try and disperse the crowds, but residents took wet t-shirts and cloths and put them over their faces to neutralise the smoke. At the same time, the flyover leading into the centre now was now blocked with burning tyres and other materials.

Hundreds of residents had now come out and were threatening all-out war with the police.

When reinforcements arrived, just after two in the afternoon, it took them more than hour to calm the situation and by the time people were driving from work, the roads had been cleared.

But the residents are threatening that if they catch a Municipal Policeman by himself, they will make sure he meets the same fate as Tonde, whose body has now been taken to Harare Hospital mortuary.

The people's anger today was unprecedented and exposes the lie that Zimbabweans are generally servile people who are bossed around by the police and the armed forces. If this sort of anger had been channeled and directed at the dictatorship in Zimbabwe, we would have brought freedom from tyranny a long time ago.

The people simply lack leadership, is what I concluded yesterday.

Even after police had used teargas on them, the people of Mbare kept coming and it was clear that the police were struggling.


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