Mugabe's police officers are infamous for brutality. Watch how they're trained, and you won't be surprised.
The officers are shouting "wuraya!" (kill him). The event is apparently referred to as "pay-day".
The amateur footage was sent to exiled opposition station SW Radio Africa two weeks ago, and has since been posted on various blogs and Web sites on the Zimbabwe Web. According to the journalist there, the scene was filmed in the last two months at Tomlinson Depot, Harare Central Constituency.
'An example for the recruits of just what they are expected to hand out to the public'
Robb Ellis, 46, was brought up and lived in Zimbabwe until a decade ago, when he moved to the UK. He was a ZRP officer between 1981 and 1985, based at Esigodini, Plumtree and Gwanda in Matabeleland South province. His initial training was at Morris Depot in Harare, not far from Tomlinson Depot where these images were filmed. He wrote a book about his experiences: Without Honour. Robb's blog.
When I joined the police in early 1981, whilst 'boot camp' at Morris Depot was hard, at no time were we as recruits subject to such beatings - or, indeed, any such violence. The batons they're using - which are actually pace sticks - are very serious weapons. We were trained to use these batons to completely incapacitate a person with four blows - one to each elbow and one to each knee.
The thing is, when you join the police in Zim nowadays, you have to buy your own uniform and your own food, so you really have to want to join. Most recruits are probably youth militia who consider it best to continue on the same plain. They're undoubtedly driven by their support for Zanu PF.
There are probably others, too, who are sold the idea of joining the force. You sign on the dotted line at the HQ up the road, and by the time you're bussed down the road to the barracks, it's too late. Once you've joined, it's more or less impossible to leave. I read recently that the Mugabe government has made it illegal for any police officer to leave the force before ten years of service had been completed. I only served just over four years, and my departure was hastened by the Gukurahundi going on all around me and the distinct feeling that the powers that be did not need a white police officer in their midst.
These beatings, in my mind, are an example for the recruits of just what they are expected to hand out to the public under the misnomer of 'duty'. I find it very sad that Mugabe and his cohorts have reduced the police force to such low levels of training. But given that the law is a changeable thing under Mugabe, and that any beating is handed out by Mugabe's thugs, the want/need to prosecute falls away.
I'd say the problems have crept in the past 15 years. Now, the Mugabe administration is training people for an all-out push against the people, as Mugabe seeks to recoup the lost ground. If that includes having to beat the police recruits, then he is happy that it happens. The fact that these men are actually videoing themselves and then posting the images online just shows that they have no qualms about what they're doing.
I expect the ritual is called ‘pay day', because it happens on the day we get paid. And to get their earnings, they have to work for it.”