Police are disguising themselves as rioters during demonstrations, taking pictures and pouncing on unsuspecting protesters, a court heard on Friday.This was revealed during the bail hearing of 31-year-old Spencer Mhako, a Harare City Council general hand suspected to be part of a gang that vandalised the Robert Mugabe Road sign during last month’s violent protest.
Investigating officer Masimba Mavhuto, who testified during the bail application, said he was equipped with overwhelming evidence against Mhako, including pictures taken by his colleagues who disguised themselves as participants in the protest.
“ . . . we have recorded statements from various police officers who were allegedly attacked by the accused person and his accomplices during the riot and at the time of arrest,” Mavhuto told the court.
“ . . . further to that, we are in possession of photographs that were taken by police officers wearing civilian attire during those demonstrations. It is only that we have not yet printed the photographs for the court to see but, if amenable, I could make one copy available”.
However, his lawyer argued that his candidate was a perfect candidate for bail because he was of fixed abode, employed and has no travel documents to facilitate fleeing the jurisdiction of the court.
Harare magistrate Vongai Guuriro’s ruling was that Mhako was not a perfect bail candidate and remanded him in custody to September 22.
Prosecutor, Progress Maringamoyo, alleged that on August 26 Mhako teamed up with protesters who are already on remand and others who are still at large to hold a public gathering at Freedom Square — the open space between Rainbow Towers hotel and Interpol offices.
Mhako then allegedly conspired with his accomplices, proceeded into the city, and caused public violence.
The court heard that Mhako and his accomplices assaulted police officers and set ablaze vendors stalls at Copa Cabana Bus Terminus.
It was further alleged that the protesters proceeded to stone motor vehicles belonging to Zimbabwe Republic Police, privately-owned cars and broke into shops before looting clothes and groceries.
A road sign inscribed “Robert Mugabe Road” which was at the intersection Rotten Row and Robert Mugabe roads was also detached and stolen.
According to court papers, Mhako was captured on photographs at the crime scene holding the road sign.
The court heard that on September 5, this year, Mhako was arrested at his workplace – City of Harare Hatfield Depot — by police officers who were tipped of his whereabouts.
The value of damage is yet to be ascertained but the State concedes “it is quite significant”.
Source- Daily News