EYEWITNESSES to a recent Chitungwiza shooting incident that left two residents seriously injured have accused police of misleading members of the public by claiming that the shooting incident happened during an exchange of fire with armed robbers, when the law enforcement agents were raiding a suspected drug base in the dormitory town.
The victims, Tashinga Mugwara and Pamela Muchazorwei were seriously injured after they were hit by a stray bullet fired by the police.
After the shooting incident, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi produced a statement which read: “Police received a tip-off and located the suspect at Taita Shops. The suspect noticed detectives approaching and drew a pistol from his jacket (and pointed) it to the detectives. In response, the detectives fired a warning shot into the air and later shot towards the suspect (but) missed him.”
Nyathi said later the police officers discovered that the missed shot had actually hit Mugwara and Muchazorwei who are now nursing wounds at Parirenyatwa Hospital.
However, an eyewitness (name withheld), who ferried Muchazorwei to the hospital, told NewsDay Weekender that the police had come to raid a suspected drug base at Taita Shops, in Unit O, Chitungwiza and did not fire warning shots.
“No warning shots were fired and this happened at around 4:30pm on Tuesday at the popular base,” the witness said.
“Police officers came in civilian clothes and ordered everyone to lie down. People started to run away out of fear. I then heard a gunshot and screaming afterwards. I don’t know if the shot was deliberate or a mistake.”
The witness said the police officers then fled from the angry mob at the scene.
“Two officers rushed into their car and fled the scene because tempers were beginning to flare. People tried to stop them, and chasing their car on foot but this was futile,” the witness added.
Tashinga’s relative, who requested anonymity, accused the police of trying to cover up their mess.
“Tashinga tried to run away after being shot and collapsed 50 meters away. I thought it was just a routine raid on the drug base,” he said.
The eyewitnesses said, in fact, three people were hit by the police bullet, but the third victim was in hiding for fear of getting arrested for being at a known drug base.
In a tweet on Thursday, police said they were aware of the residents’ complaints.
“The ZRP is aware of the complaints by the residents of Chitungwiza in connection with the incident where two people were shot. Police assures the public that investigations on the alleged misconduct by the police will be thoroughly done and nothing will be swept under the carpet,” police tweeted.
Nyathi yesterday told NewsDay Weekender: “We are investigating that case and I can assure you that if there was any misconduct by our officers that will be taken to account. We will not sweep anything under the carpet. We will shed more light as investigations continue. We want people with information to bring it forward so that it can assist in our investigations.”
Meanwhile, in an unrelated matter, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights yesterday said they assisted to secure the release of three Institute for Young Women’s Development team members who were arrested by police for allegedly convening an unsanctioned meeting in Bindura.
The three — Sandra Zenda, Kudakwashe Munemo and Onai Chitakunye — were arrested on Wednesday and detained at Bindura police station before they were charged with contravening section 7(1)(b) as read with section 5 of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act. The trio was represented by rights lawyers Idirashe Chikomba, Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Blessing Nyamaropa.
They were arrested at a meeting which was attended by 80 people at a lodge in Bindura without giving notice in writing to Chief Superintendent Gladman Chiparaushe, the police officer commanding Bindura district, for approval.
Victor Morrison, who had also been arrested together with the trio, was released on Thursday after he paid a fine for allegedly failing to display registration number plates on a vehicle. The trio was remanded to July 15 on $10 000 bail each.