Police dismiss live bullets story
POLICE have dismissed claims by The Standard newspaper that live bullets were used to disperse illegal protestors on Saturday, describing the report as “false” and “sensational”.
This follows publication of an article yesterday by the newspaper headlined: “Police open fire as protests spread.”
Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said the article lacked basic ethics of journalism and was instead more of political activism than professional journalism. “The story is false and smacks of sensationalised journalism which has openly turned political and threw all ethical tenets of journalism through the window in order to achieve one’s political objectives,” he said.
Chief Supt Nyathi said no firearm or live bullets have been used during protests that have been held in Harare and Bulawayo.
He said those claiming live bullets were fired at the protestors should present the evidence. “We are now left to wonder as to the intention of the people making these frivolous concocted lies. Remember when firearms are used or fired at a crowd, there are bound to be casualties. Are the alleged shot people in hospital or being kept by those who are campaigning for attention and thus interfering in police duties,” said Chief Supt Nyathi.
Chief Supt Nyathi also said police were concerned that the article was published barely two days after they had a meeting with the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) where media houses committed to guarding against sensational reportage and false articles.
“Now we query the genuineness of this purported engagement process. As discussed in the meeting, media houses were urged to separate political activism with professional journalism,” he said.
Chief Supt Nyathi said on the day in question, police arrested 21 people throughout the country for engaging in acts of disorderly conduct such as blocking smooth flow of traffic and intimidating the general public to join them.
He said those arrested included MDC activists who were openly agitating for violence.
Chief Supt Nyathi also revealed that a former legislator went to the extent of buying beer for patrons at a bar in Mabvuku-Tafara to influence them into joining the illegal demonstrations. He said no amount of bad mouthing by anyone will stop the ZRP from performing its constitutional mandate.
The illegal protests were organised by a grouping of political parties under the banner the National Electoral Reform Agenda, despite Government’s ban on demonstrations from September 16 to October 15.
Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi