Zimbabwe Police Suspended for Allowing 2,000-Strong New Year’s Party

Two members of Zimbabwe's opposition party MDC- Alliance sit in the back of a police truck moments after their arrest outside the party's headquarters in Harare June 5 2020, after Zimbabwe's opposition party MDC- Alliance Vice President Tendai Biti had asked police to allow him access to the building and …

Authorities in Zimbabwe suspended four police officers for failing to enforce a ban on New Year’s Eve parties on December 31 in the capital, Harare, allowing 2,000 people to gather for a music performance “right next to the local police station,” according to Zimbabwe’s the Herald on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe’s federal government on December 16 banned New Year’s Eve gatherings nationwide in an effort to curb transmission of the Chinese coronavirus.

Zimbabwe’s National Police confirmed on Monday that it suspended four officers for allowing a Harare-based disc jockey, DJ Fantan, to host a musical show on New Year’s Eve “attended by hundreds of people at Matapi Flats in Mbare, right next to the local police station,” according to Zimbabwe’s the Herald on Tuesday.

New Zimbabwe reported on Tuesday that the event was attended by 2,000 people.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms that Superintendent Innocent Makumbe, Inspector Garikai Jiyane (Officer-in-Charge, Matapi), Inspector Peace Nyarai Gunhe (Duty Officer) and Assistant Inspector Vengai Mupamhanga (Duty Member) have been suspended from police duties by Commissioner-General of Police pending disciplinary action,” Zimbabwe National Police spokesman Paul Nyathi said on Monday.

“Investigations conducted have revealed that the senior officer and junior members did not perform their duties according to police set standards and Government’s Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] regulations in handling the illegal Mbare musical bash held by DJ Fantan and his associates on 31st December 2020,” Nyathi said.

Police in the capital arrested DJ Fantan, whose real name is Arnold Kamudyariwa, along with “Chillspot Records co-founder Tafadzwa Kadzimwe aka Levels and Tinashe Chanachimwe ‘Dhama,'” for organizing the unsanctioned event. The trio appeared in a Harare court on Tuesday and pled guilty to breaching national coronavirus regulations with the music gig, according to New Zimbabwe.

“They were charged with a count of partaking and convening a public gathering during a national lockdown in contravention of … the Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention and Containment) Regulations,” the newspaper reported.

The three men were remanded in custody on January 5 while an additional court ruling was set for January 6.

“What they did is akin to attempted murder, the seriousness of their offense must be reflected in the sentence,” Prosecutor Michael Reza said of DJ Fantan and his associates.

“Fining them or sentencing them to perform community service would trivialize the impact of the Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic,” he claimed.

The local DJ was not alone in defying the New Year’s Eve party ban on December 31. Residents of several Harare neighborhoods including “Glen View, Mabvuku, Highfield, Mbare, Borrowdale, Helensvale, Westgate, Warren Park, Marlborough and Avondale” reported illegal gatherings on the holiday, according to the Herald.


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