The Zimbabwe Republic Police has condemned public violence occurring at soccer matches within the country saying the force is committed to ensuring that individuals involved in hooliganism are arrested without bias or favouritism. This statement follows an incident during a Premier Soccer League match between Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields, where Highlanders fans invaded the pitch to protest the referee’s decision not to award their team a penalty. The match was subsequently abandoned shortly before halftime with Dynamos leading 2-0.
In a statement seen by Pindula News, police national spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said preliminary investigations reveal injuries to four police officers and four members of the public, as well as damage to three police vehicles due to the violence. Read the statement:
"POLICE CONDEMN PUBLIC VIOLENCE AT SOCCER MATCHES IN THE COUNTRY
The Zimbabwe Republic Police condemns all forms of public violence at soccer matches in the country and will ensure that arrests are effected on hooligans without fear or favour.
The Police assures the public that comprehensive investigations are underway in connection with the violence which erupted during the Premier Soccer League match between Dynamos and Highlanders at Babourfields Stadium on 10th September 2023.
Preliminary investigations have established that four (04) police officers and four (04) members of the public were injured during the pitch invasion and subsequent violence which erupted inside the stadium. Three (03) Police vehicles were stoned and damaged by the soccer hooligans.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police acted professionally as police officers initially deployed at Babourfields Stadium tried to contain the situation through cooperation of marshals and did not throw tear smoke within the stadium. This strategy assisted to avoid stampede, fatalities or injury to the fans from the two opposing teams. Police managed to evacuate the soccer players, match officials and VVIPs from the stadium and sought for reinforcement to assist in containing the situation. Tear smoke was only used outside the stadium to disperse the violent crowd who openly threw stones and other objects at police officers.
On the other hand, the Zimbabwe Republic Police is disturbed by some politicians who tried to take advantage of the high profile soccer match to incite violence before, during and after the soccer match. Some of the political undertones have been clearly seen on social media platforms. The Police warns such political activists that they risk being arrested for inciting violence at soccer matches.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police appeals for information which can assist to account for some of the suspects who instigated or participated in the violence at Babourfields Stadium. The public should feel free to give information through National Complaints Desk on (0242) 703631 or WhatsApp on 0712 800 197.
The Police reiterates that the law will take its course on hooligans at soccer matches as no stone will left unturned to account for the suspects involved in the Babourfields Stadium violence."