A soldier was shot dead and a second is critical in hospital after they were shot in Chivhu, Mashonaland East, on Saturday afternoon.
Police said the shooting which took place inside a makeshift police base was unprovoked, but local reports suggested there had earlier been skirmishes after a joint patrol of police and armed troops went around beating up people indiscriminately while supposedly enforcing Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
Unconfirmed reports late Saturday said two men had been detained over the shooting death of Lance Corporal Mupanganyama and wounding of Corporal Zvirevo.
Police said Zvirevo and Mupanganyama, after patrolling the streets of Chivhu since 8AM in the company of four police officers, retreated to a police base near a Chicken Inn fast food outlet. The two soldiers were armed with AK47 rifles.
While at the police base, police said a man wearing a green face mask, a black bomber jacket, tattered blue jean trousers and black safety shoes approached and signalled Mupanganyama to meet him outside.
An internal police memo seen by ZimLive said Mupanganyama had assumed that the man summoning him was his superior, and was furious when the man introduced himself as a former soldier. He stormed off and went back inside the police base.
“The purported ex-member followed the deceased into the police base talking to the deceased on top of his voice. All of a sudden, the other accused approached at the entrance of the police base and without saying anything he produced a corked pistol and started firing directly at the two army members. Sensing danger, a female police officer took cover under the visitors’ bench,” the memo from the Criminal Investigations Department said.
The two attackers “automatically disarmed the two soldiers and took away the two AK47 rifles and four fully-charged magazines loaded with 30 rounds each” before walking out of the police base while pointing the rifles in the air.
“People started running in different directions for their safety. The accused persons ran away to a nearby bush east of the police base and disappeared,” police said.
A video showing Mupanganyama being carried by members of the public after the shooting was posted online. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at Chivhu General Hospital.
Zvirevo was treated at the same hospital but was later transferred to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare for specialist treatment in critical condition.
A bullet grazed Mupanganyama’s chest but he also took direct hits to his left palm and the fatal shot on the nose which went through his head.
Zvirevo was shot six times – twice on the left hand, once in the abdomen and he also had three gunshot wounds to the back.
A heavy-handed enforcement of coronavirus regulations by security forces has heightened tensions in Zimbabwe.
The opposition accuses President Emmerson Mnangagwa of ruling under a virtual state of emergency, using regulations adopted in March which prohibit public gatherings.