Dozens of mourners were arrested in Gweru on Saturday after police disrupted the burial of a man who allegedly died after police beatings.
Tatenda Kasinyore’s death in police custody sparked anger in Mtapa suburb where he was popularly known as Nyale.
Before his burial, hundreds of people, some carrying placards, demonstrated outside Monomutapa Police Station where he had been detained. His coffin was for several minutes dumped outside the station, disrupting traffic on the Gweru-Matobo Road.
Police responded by firing teargas and followed the funeral procession to the local cemetery where 76 mourners were arrested, according to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said their officers were enforcing Covid-19 regulations which limit the number of mourners to 30.
“We discovered that the people who had gathered for the funeral were exceeding 30 and police had to disperse people,” Nyathi said, before accusing unnamed human rights organisations of “taking advantage of the situation.”
Police were called to a house in Mambo suburb at about 2AM on Wednesday following reports of a man throwing stones on the roof.
Kasinyore, 28, was arrested at the scene where witnesses heard him complaining over tight police handcuffs.
He was taken to the police station where at around 4AM his two cellmates named as Tendai Magwaza and Tafadzwa Gojo called out for help when he started vomiting. An ambulance was called and he was pronounced dead on arrival at Gweru Provincial Hospital.
Nyathi said Kasinyore was drunk and had been found with the drug methamphetamine during a body search, popularly knows as mutoriro in the local Shona language.