NewsDay journalist, Blessed Mhlanga, has said he will be sleeping in police cells on Monday night after the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) changed his charges from disorderly conduct to assaulting a police officer.
Mhlanga said he was initially arrested on Friday night for taking pictures of police offices at Zindoga shopping centre in Harare. He said:
Last night I was arrested n detained by @PoliceZimbabwe for taking pictures at Zindoga, of police offices. I was detained without charge 4 3 hrs. A policeman struck my mouth with a fist, my teeth curved in killing my smile. Only released with @misazimbabwe help.
Mhlanga was charged with disorderly conduct and was detained for two hours. He said he had to visit the hospital for treatment. He narrated the ordeal:
The police officer who attacked me, landing a fist in my face and almost breaking my jaw is called Patsikadowa. Together with a group of 4 others they then took turns to beat me as I was bleeding through the mouth. I pleaded with them 2 stop, but it got worse. It was hell.
Patsikadowa held on to handcuffs on me, he squeezed them hard until I could not feel my thumb. This while his colleagues beat me and pull my privates. He said to me “I won’t let you go until you pee in your pants, I wanted to Pee on myself so that he lets me go. Nothing came
They walked in handcuffed from Zindoga to Waterfalls police in handcuffs in the dark. I feared for my life, I thought they would kill me. Thought of my kids and wife. It was the worst moment of my life. I was happy to get to the police station. Going to the cell was a relief 🥲
I was also happy that the police officer who had attacked me made it easy for me to track his identity. He tried to force me to pay a fine, by threatening me with a cold police cell. He tried to cover his back by making me pay a fine as if it was a favor. Well I refused
My brother @TabaniMoyo of @misazimbabwe dispatched a lawyer, @ChrisMhike who negotiated my release on medical grounds. He also demanded my assault case be recorded as it had been ignored. A police officer wrote the statement and I signed it after correcting my name.
I am struggling in pain, delivered at the hands of @PoliceZimbabwe like many others who died in police custody, I could have been dead. Patsikadowa gets taxpayers money to serve and protect. He is just a killer in police uniform. I am lucky to be alive today.
In an update on Monday, Mhlanga said his case had been changed from disorderly conduct to assaulting a police officer. He said:
I will be sleeping in police cells today after @PoliceZimbabwe changed the charges against me from disorderly conduct to assaulting a police officer 3 days after. I have been reporting 2 the police every day by myself. I don’t know why they want to detain me. I am shocked.
Police officers have on several occasions been accused of brutality against journalists and other members of the public.