The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers this afternoon intentionally shot three teargas canisters into occupied offices belonging to 263Chat, a local media organisation based in Harare.
Lovejoy Mutongwiza a reporter with 263Chat was covering a joint operation by the ZRP working with the Harare municipal police to arrest vendors operating in a vicinity of the 263Chat offices.
Mutongwiza says a uniformed police officer asked him to stop taking pictures of the operation. As Mutongwiza was complying with this order, a mob of what appeared to be plain clothed police officers started running towards the reporter. Mutongwiza says he ran for the safety of their offices fearing for both his life and that of his equipment.
A handful of uniformed police officers and an estimated ten plain clothed municipal officers pursued Mutongwiza all the way to his offices. Upon getting to the offices, one of the police officers fired a teargas canister directly at Mutongwiza striking him with the projectile on the abdomen.
Two other canisters were thrown into the offices as some of the officers barricaded the doors preventing 263Chat from escaping the offices. According to 263Chat’s Nigel Mugamu, staff was left with no choice but to escape through the building’s windows.
The law enforcement officers also confiscated a mobile phone used by 263Chat staff to record the attack on their offices. He also added that during the entire attack none of the officers produced a search warrant or any proof of identification.
Mutongwiza reported the matter at the Harare Central Police station and the complaint was recorded as file number I.R. 040399. He has also sought medical attention for the injuries he suffered.