‘’The Tanzanian Police is fast becoming a despicable nuisance in the sphere of operational illegalities and abject violation of the Fundamental Human Rights of the citizens of this nation……the rate of human rights violations by the Tanzanian police is on the increase and needs urgent attention. This is absurd, a flagrant abuse of power and an utter manifestation of ignorance of the law’’.
Legal war on police brutality the best option
By Correspondent 30th June 2011
They came limping with despair and fear in their eyes probably due to recalling what had happened the previous night. One did not need to ask to know that they were terrorized as you could see it vividly from their tired faces.
Some had their mouths and lips so dry that it forced this writer to buy water for the 20 villagers of Usinge to quench their thirst. The villagers were arrested in connection with the recent cattle fracas in Uramba district. The more they narrated their ordeal, the more we wept. Read on:
It all began on May 25 this year when forest officials in collaboration with police officers in Tabora region launched an operation to confiscate cattle from the forest reserve along the Mpanda railway line, an area endowed with water catchments and other natural resources.
A week later, the hunt was on with the 20 people being implicated in the case. Most of them confessed that they had neither a cow nor a goat, noting that the only thing they had was chicken.
The operation may have meant to conserve the environment but it led to injuries, arrests and even deaths of some of those who attended a meeting that had been termed illegal.
It took 10 minutes of sweet words of reassurance before they could do away with the tension. A team from the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) under lawyer Laetitia Petro reassured them that they had come to seek nothing but the truth in order to calm down the heat in the area.
Sixty-three-year old Hamisi Kajenjegele could not hide his feelings, saying the police officers who came to arrest him did not even respect his gray hair (his age).
“I went to the market with my bicycle to buy food when all of a sudden I heard an explosion. Before I knew it, police officers jumped out of the car and I recall them saying `peace’ but what came after was a severe beating all over my body,” Kajenjegele said.
He said he thought the beatings would end once he obeyed their orders but things became even worse when they reached at the central police station in Urambo.
John Mwendesha, (47), a trader, said he was not around in the area when the illegal meeting was convened by some members of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) and wondered why on earth he had been arrested. The only thing he could recall was receiving a heavy kick from a police boot.
“I was on my way from Urambo township where I went to buy empty maize bags for my business. Suddenly, police arrested and pushed me into a car subjecting me to severe beatings,” he said.
Mwendesha accuses the police of taking his 2m/- cash and two mobile phones without providing him with any written document.
He only pleaded with the law enforcers to return back his mobile phones as those gadgets were what made him earn a living. “The money was meaningless as God would give me more in future,” he said.
Selemani Kagome, a farmer, said: “I was coming from a nearby medical store where I had gone to buy malaria tablets when all of a sudden I saw policemen with guns ordering me to enter into their car.”
He said he was beaten and 68,000/- taken away plus a mobile phone.
Kadagala Kamulenge, also a farmer, said he was arrested while visiting his relatives in a nearby house.
He said policemen took him, beat him up and took his mobile phone before ordering him to join the rest. All hell broke loose reached the police station at Urambo.
Of those arrested, Fredrick Richard suffered a fracture on his leg due to severe beatings. Had it not been for the LHRC intervening, he would have not seen the inside of a hospital for treatment.
Iddi Masola was injured in his mouth and he too had to be taken to the hospital.
LHRC interviewed 12 of them and they all had horrifying stories on how they were beaten. Their ordeal portrays the ongoing dispute between pastoralists and government authorities over grazing animals in a forest reserve.
There were stories of pastoralists from Mwanza, Bariadi, Shinyanga. The way the arrests were conducted was inhuman, to say the least. Why were the victims beaten, this again defies logic.
The Tanzanian Police is fast becoming a despicable nuisance in the sphere of operational illegalities and abject violation of the Fundamental Human Rights of the citizens of this nation and this nonsense must stop now or be stopped by a mass protest.