Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights notes with concern the deliberate provocative behavior of the police in Bulawayo’s Matshobana, Makhokhoba and Mzilikazi suburbs today, where the members of the uniformed force provoked peaceful residents to join violent protests.
The police fired teargas to houses and to protest onlookers and thus provocating them to join the small group of rowdy youths that were burning tyres. These provocations began in Makhokhoba during midday and in the evening they were repeated in Mzilikazi and Matshobana.
A sizeable group of about 15 youths began the protests during midday burning tyres near valley turn. Scores of Makhokhoba residents went to the sides of the road to watch and cheer and the police began firing teargas into the yards prompting more residents to angrily join the youths and in no time the crowd of protesters had swelled to over 150 youths mainly school children who were throwing stones to the police, shouting obscenities and singing the protest song ‘into eliyenzayo siyayizond’ (we hate what you are doing).
In the evening around 430 – 530pm groups of police officers were roaming the streets of Makhokhoba firing teargas into houses and yards.
The Mzilikazi provocations were done in the evening aroung 530pm where the youths who had failed to penetrate the police barricade at McKurtain Primary School retreated to Makhokhoba and Mzilikazi suburbs and they went on to loot at Mzilikazi Supermarket near Machisini Robbots. The police came using a white defender and began firing teargas indiscriminately into houses.
Matshobana suburb is about 1,5 kilometres from Mzilikazi suburb where the protests were, but the police drove their vehicle in the suburb and indiscriminately fired teargas into people’s houses. This was done during the day and in the evening around 6pm. The police further used a hailer in the evening to threaten Matshobana residents with live bullets if they join the protests.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights is a human rights watchdog based in Bulawayo and dedicated to protecting and promoting human rights.
Whilst the institute strongly condemns acts of violence and looting during the protests, we wish to also strongly condemn acts of deliberate condemnation by the police.