In yet another low for the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), one of its officers, last week shot and killed a Bikita villager who was suspected of having stolen nine turkeys from fellow villagers.
The latest dose of negative news comes as two Harare families are still smarting from the deaths of their members who were shot and killed last Thursday during fierce clashes between police and commuter omnibus crews.
ZRP has taken full responsibility and apologised to the families of the deceased who included a Daily News vendor, Nhamo Zephenia, who was shot as he made his way home.
The death of the suspected turkey thief, Tasvika Gunguzha, was contained in a leaked ZRP internal memorandum on February 19 addressed to officer commanding Masvingo Province, Martha Mafolo.
According to the memo, a stock theft complaint against Gunguzha of Makwani Village under Chief Mazungunye, was sent to Bikita District Police Station on Monday last week, prompting the officer-in-charge to dispatch two police officers to the village to effect an arrest.
Upon arrival at Makwani Village, the two police officers proceeded to the village head identified in the memorandum as Makwani Nedure who revealed that he had a concern over stock theft cases which were happening in his village and fingered Gunguzha as the chief suspect.
Nedure who told police that Gunguzha was behind the theft of nine turkeys, led them to Gunguzha’s homestead.
“Constable Chibaza and Constable Kwawo, in the company of Nedure… approached the accused’s homestead and the accused was alert and fled.
“The team then chased after him with the assistance of some villagers and the accused was armed with a machete,” read part of the memo.
A big chase was said to have followed as the ZRP officers enlisted the help of some villagers resulting in one of them losing one of finger after he was struck with a machete by Gunguzha as he tried to apprehend him.
“The accused turned more violent and attacking using stones and now attacking … Kwawo (sic).
“. . . Kwawo fired a warning shot which strayed and hit the accused on the right side of the stomach and sustained a gun wound.
“The accused was then arrested. The machete and a log were recovered as exhibit. The accused was escorted to ZRP Bikita where he died at Bikita Rural Hospital upon admission.
“The body of the deceased was then taken to Silveira Hospital mortuary awaiting post-mortem,” the memorandum further said.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Charity Mazula said she could not confirm the incident as she was currently out of office and referred questions to her deputy Kudakwashe Dehwa who said he had not yet been informed about the incident.
The incident came three days before last Thursday’s fierce clashes between police and kombi crews as well as vendors which were sparked by an ill-advised ban on commuter omnibuses and informal traders operating in the Central Business District.
Government blamed the Harare City Council for the ban although Local Government minister July Moyo, who shifted blame to the local municipality late Thursday, had in
January warned that he would descend on kombis and informal traders with the help of the military.
Police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga told journalists last Friday that three police officers were seriously injured and three police cars were badly damaged during the violent clashes which followed the shooting.
He also regretted the shootings and apologised for the loss of lives as a
result, promising a full scale investigation into what triggered the incidents.
Apart from the killings, police were accused of severely assaulting and torturing suspects from the same clashes who were in their custody.
Four men — accused of stoning Harare Central Police Station during the confrontation — gave a chilling account to a Harare magistrate of how they were savagely beaten by police officers leading to one of their co-accused being admitted to hospital with serious injuries.