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Don’t kill armed robbers, police told

ZRP spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi

The shooting dead of suspected armed robbers by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) seems to be getting out of hand, experts implies.

Of late ZRP detectives have shot dead armed robbery suspects, in purported exchange of fire.

In one such case, ZRP has reported the killing of suspected armed robber Godfrey Njoromore in Chitungwiza.

This case follows the killing of another alleged armed robber in Arcadia, during a reported shootout.

Apparently, security experts say the police shoot to kill policy is ill-conceived and should be revised because there are laws to deal with criminals rather than allow the law enforcement agents to gun-down ‘citizens’.

They suggested that police adopt a shoot to disarm policy rather than killing suspects who should be tried in the court of law.

Former police commander in Harare and Masvingo, Emmanuel Chimwanda, is on record saying the shoot to kill policy was not favourable in Zimbabwe where a peaceful environment is prevailing.

He accused the police of recklessness that at one time resulted in the death of innocent citizens. “The shoot to kill strategy can be entertained in a state which is in a war.

“That policy is good for countries like Colombia and Somalia where statistics show that police have been attacked,” he says.

Chimwanda added: “We have laws to deal with criminals in Zimbabwe, that’s why we don’t need police shooting citizens unless or if they are under attack.”

But the then police spokesman Andrew Phiri speaking at one time defended the strategy saying the police would use maximum force to deal with armed robbers.

“We are doing all we can to protect the lives of citizens,” he said.

After the death of one citizen Chatikobo, the then ZRP boss Augustine Chihuri said: “The ZRP will not stand akimbo and watch innocent citizens of this country, let alone police officers, being decimated by uncouth criminals.

“To this end, all unscrupulous elements, be they armed robbers, carjackers and others of that ilk, should be warned that the ZRP shall not hesitate to shoot to kill any such persons. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

Chimwanda, however, said it was necessary for the police to ensure they are targeting the right suspects before firing guns. Rape and robbery cases, he said, did not require the police to kill the suspects but in cases where the law enforcement agents needed to protect the public from notorious gangs’ attacks.

Chimwanda said the question on many minds is why the police are shooting innocent civilians instead of dealing with dangerous criminals roaming the streets.

He said the policy should be revoked before many fall victim to the “ill-conceived” strategy.

Lawyer Jacqueline Sande argued that lethal force should only be a last resort, and that the execution of the death penalty should be left to the hangman.

“It should only be used as a matter of life and death to preserve the police officer’s life, not as a means of deterring criminal’s from committing further offences or as a means of apprehending and convicting a criminal,” Sande said.

She added: “I am in no way advocating for crime or the molly coddling of criminals. However instant execution should not be the norm and our police should not turn into the nation’s hangman indiscriminately.

“In the end, the right to be heard is enshrined in the constitution and dead men tell no tales. We will never know beyond doubt if they’re guilty of that for which they have been instantly executed for,” she adds.

However, former Norton Independent Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa implores police to employ the shoot to kill approach on armed robbers.

Mliswa says this would be deterrent to would be criminals adding that armed robbery should be a frightening idea.

“These armed robbers need a shoot to kill approach as a deterrence measure. It should be a frightening idea to become an armed robber.

“A Nemaise approach will work. There should be no mercy with these people ZRP. We can’t allow the country to become an armed robbery territory,” he says.

Zwnews

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