Lovemore Kadzura Rusape Correspondent —
Christmas Day celebrations in Rusape were marred by a series of violent clashes and fights among imbibers leading to premature closure of bars and night clubs by the police.
Police had to resort to use dogs and throwing tear gas to disperse some violent malcontents who were resisting orders to vacate bars which were operating well beyond their stipulated time.
Most of the violent clashes took place at bars and nightclubs at the Dhliwayo Shopping Centre where there are popular drinking spots such as The Basement, High Flame and Neighbours.
Things got out of control when police who were on night patrol ordered Dhliwayo Bottle Store to close its shop around 0030hrs as they were suppose to close at 10pm. This did not go down well with the patrons who were in the bar who started pushing officers out of the bar. The owner of the bar also refused to close her bar.
Police had to call for reinforcements and that is when the violent clashes escalated to other bars. Some drunkards started attacking police officers with stones and beer bottles. As the situation was going out of hand, police who were armed with dogs and tear gas ordered the closure of all the bars at the Centre.
25 violent men and the owner of Dhliwayo Bottle Store Fortune Matuka were immediately arrested. They were only released on Tuesday after paying $20 fines for disorderly conduct while Matuka paid $40 for permitting drunkenness and riotous conduct.
Manicaland police spokesperson Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa confirmed the incident and said members of the public must always obey police orders as they are meant to protect people and property.
Inspector Kakohwa also warned business owners especially bar operators to adhere to the dictates of their licences. He further said police will remain in full force maintaining law and order this festive and New Year holidays saying they are ready to deal with people who break the law in the name of celebrations.
“Yes those people were arrested for causing public violence that happened around midnight at Dhliwayo Shopping centre. They were resisting police orders to vacate a bottle store that was operating after hours. The owner of the bar was also arrested for inciting violence and operating after hours.
“We want to warn people that it is a crime to disobey police orders. Businesspersons and members must comply with the police. Those who operate drinking outlets must stick to their stipulated opening and closing times.
“The police will remain in full force this festive and the coming New Year holidays maintaining law and order. Being in a celebration mood does not mean you can commit crime and get away with it. Let us be responsible and avoid breaking the law this holiday,’’ he said.