Angry Chisuma villagers want soldiers withdrawn

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

Community leaders in Victoria Falls have expressed outrage at a claim by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) that the two Chisuma villagers who were shot dead by soldiers last Wednesday were trying to disarm them and have demanded that the soldiers be removed from the area.

In a statement last week, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said Morgan Sibanda and Dumisani Mpofu from Chisuma 2 Village were fatally shot while trying to disarm two soldiers on September 30 after refusing to follow Covid-19 regulations.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is investigating the circumstances in which two suspects tried to disarm members of the Security Services who were on an anti-smuggling deployments in Victoria Falls on 30th September 2020 resulting in a shooting incident and the death of the two suspects,” said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi.

The claim by the police has, however, angered traditional and political who argued that the duo were killed following an altercation with the soldiers.

The soldiers identified as Bonang Nare and Bernard Sibanda who are stationed at 1.2 Infantry Battalion in Hwange were arrested and have appeared in court facing murder charges.

The soldiers were reportedly drinking beer at Langton Bar when the altercation started. They then went back to their base at Chisuma Primary School and came back armed with guns and shot Sibanda and Mpofu.

In retaliation, some villagers burnt down a house belonging to the bar owner, Munyaradzi Mlauzi, who was said to be working in cahoots with the soldiers.

Army officials and Chisuma villagers held a meeting on Sunday as tensions continue to simmer with villagers demanding that the soldiers be removed from the area.

“The statement that was given by the police implying that those civilians were shot after resisting being dispersed is not true,” Godfrey Dube, Hwange West legislator told CITE.

“What they are doing is just a cover up to justify this callous murder, and we are disappointed as the leaders of the community, and their defence has fuelled anger and unrest among the villagers,” he added.

Dube said they have received reports of several villagers who had been brutalised by the security forces deployed in the area.  

The legislator added that the police should have been deployed to the scene and recorded credible statements from eye witnesses.

“I have had to bring together local councillors and the chief (Mvuthu) to discuss how the events have turned out and how people may be pacified. People are angry and the families are hurting.”

Acting Chief Mvuthu Bishop Matata Sibanda also disputed the claims that the deceased tried to disarm the soldiers.

“My heart is in pain because these were my children and the fact that they died without being ill hurts even more,” he said.

“I visited the two families and what l observed there was a sorry situation. Their families including children have been left without a father figure and that too is painful. It is not true that these people were killed after trying to disarm the soldiers. I have spoken with several eye witnesses and villagers and it is evident that these soldiers came carrying guns just to victimize and kill these two men. No one fought the soldiers.”

The deceased are yet to be buried.

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