Property worth thousands of dollars was destroyed, while two trucks belonging to police and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation were burnt to shells by MDC-T youths who ran amok in Harare yesterday during an illegal demonstration against alleged “police brutality”.
The rowdy youths also looted groceries from several supermarkets, including Choppies along Nelson Mandela Avenue, where they stole expensive whisky and other alcoholic beverages.
The youths who were reportedly taking instructions from the MDC-T headquarters, used human shields during their demonstration, as they attacked police officers with stones before disappearing into the public.
This made it difficult for the police to smoke out the hooligans.
Police were deployed in and around the city to maintain order.
No arrests had been made by late yesterday as police launched a manhunt for some of the culprits.
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said the illegal demonstration started when the youths convened in the morning near the intersection of Julius Nyerere Way and Nelson Mandela Avenue where they provoked people who were at some banks.
“While these MDC youths had gathered at the intersection of Julius Nyerere Way and Nelson Mandela Avenue, the other team, which was being led by their convener, had gone to Harare Central (Police) District to inform the police about their demonstration.
“While they were talking to the police, officers received a message that there were some disturbances in the city and rushed to the scene,” she said.
When police arrived at the scene, she said, the convener instead of restraining the youths from carrying out the demonstrations, incited them to continue.
“They went on a rampage and looted from shops including Choppies, vendors and burnt two trucks belonging to the police and ZBC. They also destroyed a police base and stoned several cars in the city. The youths were moving around with stones in their pockets, meaning that the intention was to cause havoc in the city,” Snr Asst Comm Charamba said.
“We have already identified some of the culprits and we are looking for them. The conveners will also be arrested for inciting violence.”
She said several people yesterday visited Harare Central Police Station to report on the damages that had been done on their property.
Snr Asst Comm Charamba assured the people that the police would remain alert on the ground to thwart any criminal activities.
“Imagine a country where the police is not allowed to maintain law and order, there will be chaos. Police are there to maintain law and order and we want to assure all peace-loving Zimbabweans that the police are doing their level best to restore normalcy,” she said.
Choppies managing director Mr Siqokoqela Mphoko, said he heard from his manager that a group of youths raided their Nelson Mandela branch and ransacked the shop.
“I am currently in Bulawayo, but what I heard from my manager is that a group of people went to the shop and ransacked it. They broke two till points and two computers.
“They also looted alcohol and destroyed stock. A woman who was also shopping was beaten up. The total value is more than $12 000,” he said.