MEN at Murambinda Growth Point in Buhera District are having sleepless nights over a 26-year-old male who has wreaked havoc as he ambushes and rapes unsuspecting males at night.
Clad in female apparel and at times donning white garments similar to apostolic church gear, Panganai Tangwena, a skinny former local club wheel spinner, has pounced on unsuspecting males and many men are no longer comfortable to stroll during the night.
With a strange modus operandi that includes biting the victim on the back or chest and at times using a small stick to beat the victim's thighs in order to weaken the prey, Tangwena's shenanigans have sent tongues wagging in Murambinda.
Police have since launched a manhunt for Tangwena, who is believed to have found refuge in nearby mountains as he is playing hide and seek with the law enforcement agents. Tangwena is now on wanted list for aggravated indecent assault.
Indications are that a sizable number has since fallen victim in the area although some men, for prides' sake, chose to remain silent after a nasty encounter with Tangwena.
Officer-in-charge Murambinda Police Station, Chief Inspector Gorden Sibanda, confirmed that they had received reports of men who were attacked by Tangwena and sexually abused.
"It is true that we are dealing with such a case. We got the first report on August 31. He was reported to have committed aggravated indecent assault. It appears he has specific tactics he employs when carrying out his shenanigans. At one point, he is said to have seen an 18-year-old bathing along the river and attacked him. The young victim was admitted at Murambinda Mission Hospital after he was sodomised allegedly by Tangwena.
"We also got another report on September 2 when he met his male neighbour who was on his way home. Tangwena is said to have approached him and started molesting him. He allegedly bit his 'prey' on both breasts and on his back. There were visible scars on the victim. However, the neighbour was lucky to escape before Tangwena had accomplished his mission, but he had managed to identify him.
"When this guy came to make a report, it took less than an hour before another male came to report a similar case. Last week we got another report from a woman who was gathering firewood in the bush in the company of her mother. He is said to have tried to attack the woman until the mother threatened him with an axe and he ran away," he said.
Chief Insp Sibanda said police had intensified their patrols at night.
"We have tried on several occasions to raid his home and all areas where he is said to be hiding, but it has yielded nothing so far. To some extent there could be the use of juju in the way the suspect behaves. Even the way he escapes after being seen in public is a puzzle to us. We have tried all the tricks in the bag. We are also embarking on campaigns to alert the public and one such initiative is this interview apart from campaigns in the residential areas," he said.
Chief Insp Sibanda bemoaned the fact the suspect's close relatives were protecting Tangwena and providing him with food.
In a separate interview, Tangwena's cousin, Munodawafa, said his brothers' acts had divided the family.
"We no longer see eye to eye with his father, mother and some of his brothers and sisters. It appears his parents are supporting him and are fighting in his corner. We started hearing about his gay antics in 2012. In fact, he was once jailed, but was released after about six months. He used to be a Johanne Marange devotee. Panga was married, but both the wife and child died. We were told he also raped women, but would practise anal sex whenever he pounced on a female victim. It was even an issue when his wife was still alive as she complained about the backside sex," he said.