The Zimbabwe Republic Police was Tuesday afternoon caught up in an apparent falsehood after spokeswoman Charity Charamba claimed at a Press conference that investigations had revealed that footage broadcast by Sky News, showing State security agents beating a civilian, was filmed in 2016.
The video, which shows a man with hands tied behind his hands being repeatedly beaten around the head by three State security agents, including a soldier with an AK47, sparked global outrage as the authorities continue a violent crackdown against the political opposition and indiscriminate night time raids targeting males in townships across the country.
“An issue about Sky News video footage, which was on Sky News yesterday; we have also gathered information that this incident occurred in July 2016,” said Charamba before claiming that the owner of the kombi used to ferry the assaulted man had been identified and he, in turn, had confirmed the incident had happened in 2016.
The claims were immediately uncovered as untrue as a Mercedes Benz sedan captured in the footage has a registration plate with letters AES. The sequence of letters was not available in 2016, a point quickly noted by social media users reacting to the police statement.
“My car is an AEF and I got my plates in 2017 July,” one Facebook user said. “Those AES plates would be from a car imported in 2018.”
The police attempt to mislead the public, particularly the reference to a witness confirming the video as filmed in 2016, brings into question the sincerity of the Zimbabwean authorities.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who describes his government as a new dispensation breaking from Zimbabwe’s authoritarian past, had yesterday promised to investigate the security agents behind the assault.
“I was appalled by today's @SkyNews report. That is not the Zimbabwean way. I have instructed that the individuals behind this be arrested and encourage all those impacted to contact the authorities and file an official complaint,” Mnangagwa said in a Twitter post.
One of the officers who was filmed assaulting the handcuffed man has since been arrested.
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