POLICE say they are still clueless as to the identity of people who shot and killed six unarmed civilians in post-election violence on August 1, but warned they would soon arrest MDC leader Nelson Chamisa for allegedly inciting his supporters and ordinary Zimbabweans to protest.
Appearing before the Commission of inquiry into the August 1 violence, acting officer commanding (crime) Harare, Detective Chief Inspector Edmore Runganga said the police thus far did not have any suspects or leads on who shot and killed the six.
“We have not made any arrests in relation to the death of the six people. We have not yet established what caused their death although we now have post-mortem reports which indicate that the deaths were caused by projectiles from firearms. We don’t know the exact place of shootings because there are no witnesses,” he said.
Pressed by Commissioner Lovemore Madhuku to explain if they had any suspects or leads on who had shot dead the six, Runganga said they had only questioned MDC activists arrested in connection with the demonstrations and had no other suspects.
“We only asked those MDC guys who we had arrested on charges of public violence if they knew anything on the shootings, and they did not know anything. But so far, we don’t have other suspects in connection with the shootings,” he said.
Runganga said despite not having any suspects and leads on the shootings, they had now elevated their three-month long investigation to a full-scale murder investigation.
“Now that we have the post-mortem reports, we are now treating it as a murder case,” he said.
The police suspected the dead could also have been shot by business people or the military wing of the MDC, who they suspected to hold small arms.
Runganga was left clutching at straws when Commissioner Rodney Dixon challenged him to explain how small arms could have caused the death of the six when post-mortem results show the bullets were from high velocity weapons, in the nature of rifles.
Reporting on the progress of investigations, Runganga, who blamed the MDC for the post-election violence, said they had managed to arrest 41 opposition party activists, who have since appeared before the courts.
“So far, we have investigated the assault on people who reported. We also investigated the malicious damage to property involving various vehicles and shops that had been damaged. We are also investigating the incident in which six people died,” he said.
“The 41 who we arrested were demonstrators who committed the crimes we are talking about. The majority belonged to the political party, for example, Tendai Biti. He is a leader of a political party, Jim Kunaka is linked to a political party. So we concluded that they belong to MDC Alliance.”
On Chamisa, who is accused of having incited violence prior to and after the elections, Runganga said the police were looking to arrest him soon after investigations were completed.
“We have not made any arrests of people who were inciting violence prior to the elections because we are investigating to try and have concrete evidence on how they incited the violence. Once the investigations are complete, they will definitely be charged for inciting violence, as defined by section 187, as read with section 36 and 37 of the Code,” he said.
Earlier, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba blamed Chamisa for inciting his supporters to be violent and placed the blame of the August 1 shootings on his shoulders.
She said the actions of Chamisa were appalling and had been reported to the police, who were yet to take action.
Chigumba, however, condemned the army for using live ammunition against unarmed civilians. She said live ammunition could only have been used as a last resort.
The army has, however, denied shooting anyone during the operation where they deployed 62 soldiers as part of the National Reaction Force led by Brigadier-General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, to quell the protests which had allegedly turned violent.
The soldiers, armed with whips, AK 47 assault rifles and baton sticks managed to restore order in the central business district within just 90 minutes.