Dar es Salaam. Police in Dar es Salaam said Wednesday that it is holding two members of the law enforcement agency after reports surfaced online alleging that they’re responsible for shooting dead a security guard at a popular pub in the city, Boardroom Bar.
The deceased has been identified as 29-year-old Razaki Azan. The officers, whom police didn’t name in their statement, allegedly stormed the pub located in the suburban area of Sinza Mapambano around 2 AM as part of a crackdown against sex workers.
The incident comes almost a month since Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Albert Chalamila ordered pub owners in the city whose premises are used by sex workers in their activities, which are illegal in Tanzania, to get rid of them lest he shuts them down.
Videos circulating online show police officers confronting security guards at the Boardroom Bar, trying to force themselves into the pub to arrest the alleged sex workers spotted in the area.
In one video, a woman is heard protesting at the police’s actions to arrest them, saying, “It is our right,” while warning the officers that they’re being recorded.
Another video shows one officer pointing a gun at the women who were shouting, “We’re recording,” while screaming, “Police are endangering our lives. There are no laws. We’re going to post you on the internet. You’re killing us.”
Reports circulating online allege that it was during this time that one officer pulled the trigger, hitting the security guard in the head and killing him on the spot. One video on social media shows blood on the floor.
In their statement on Wednesday, police said they were investigating the incident, noting that the officers would be brought to justice once preliminary procedures had been finalised. Azan’s body has been preserved at the Mwananyamala Regional Referral Hospital.
This is not the first time that police officers have been accused of killing people while carrying out their operations.
Police’s use of excessive force during the course of implementing their duties has also been a matter of concern for many years, attracting criticism from human rights organisations and the general public.
In April 2023, Afrobarometer reported that the majority of Tanzanians think the police at least sometimes use excessive force with protesters and criminal suspects and stop drivers without good reason, with fewer than half saying the police usually operate professionally and respect all citizens’ rights.
Members of the law enforcement agency have received criticism even from President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who has chastised them for using excessive and unreasonable force while carrying out their duties on several occasions.
In 2021, the Head of State called out offensive language, corruption, and the use of excessive force by police officers, describing them as some factors that lower public trust in the institution.
A commission President Samia formed to investigate criminal justice organs in Tanzania gave several recommendations to address the challenge of excessive use of force by the police and other security organs, including the need to professionalise the Police Force.