A SELF-PROCLAIMED traditional healer from Lower Gweru who was on the run after allegedly raping several women in Lupane on the pretext of healing them was fatally shot following a dramatic exchange of gunfire with police while trying to evade arrest.
The incident occurred last Wednesday afternoon when Thomas Sithole of Tshani Village under Chief Bunina in Lower Gweru died during the shootout while trying to evade arrest.
Police spokesman spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was still to receive a report but officers in Gweru told Sunday News that Sithole , who was on the run, had been holed up at his homestead in Lower Gweru after committing the heinous crimes. On the day, two police officers from Lupane Police Station went to Lower Gweru to look for Sithole who was on the police wanted list.
“When the two got to Lower Gweru they went to Maboleni Police Station where they were accompanied by three other police officers and drove to Sithole’s homestead.
When they got to Sithole’s homestead, the five police officers found a Toyota Ipsum which the traditional healer was using in Lupane parked outside. The police officers enquired who the owner was and Sithole told them that he had bought it in Lupane and went into the house purporting to be collecting the vehicle registration book.
“A police officer allegedly followed him into the house and found him holding a pesticide attempting to commit suicide. The police officers wrestled it from him and he took a machete and started chasing them,” said the officer.
The officer said Sithole went to the police vehicle and forcibly took the car keys and sped off with them in his Toyota Ipsum.
“The police officers went back to Maboleni Police Station and armed themselves with two FN rifles and started searching for Sithole and his wife. The police officers went to Majazi Shopping Centre where they were told that Sithole had driven towards a nearby river. The police officers followed and located him,” he said.
It is said when the police officers got to the river, Sithole charged towards them intending to attack them.
“One of the police officers, who was armed with an FN rifle fired three warning shots in the air but Sithole did not retreat. Sithole managed to disarm one officer while his wife struck the other officer with a stone on the stomach. Sithole started firing towards the police. The two parties had an exchange of fire resulting in Sithole being shot on the arm and abdomen. He was rushed to Lower Gweru Mission Hospital but died on admission,” said the officer.
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament for Vungu Constituency, Cde Omega Sibanda, has said people should co-operate with police.
“It is unfortunate that this is another incident where police were forced to use guns while trying to arrest a suspect following another incident in Ward One recently. The guy was not going to die if he had co-operated with the police or if police were equipped well to apprehend him in the first instance. My appeal is people should be law abiding and secondly, police must be vigilant all the time so that they can apprehend suspects without necessarily having to use maximum force that might lead to loss of life.”