Inyathi villagers in Bubi District, Matabeleland North, have accused the police of sleeping on the job while “criminals” who terrorise them in the area continue to go scot-free with law enforcement agents not doing much to address the situation.
Lovemore Toma, a villager who spoke to CITE, said perpetrators of crime are not arrested when villagers report cases at Inyathi Police Station.
“On the 1st of May 2021 around 9pm, I witnessed what I can call the shock of my life,” said Toma.
“While I was in my house with my family, I heard a woman screaming out loud calling my name saying: “Mukoma Love vhurai door pane arikuda kundi raper (My brother, open the door, there is someone who wants to rape me).” I was courageous enough to open the door and I saw a man who was in a blue overall and a light blue Jersey holding a machete approximately half a metre long in his hand chasing after the woman who was screaming for my help.”
He further explained: “She managed to reach my doorstep and I paved a way for her to get into my house and I quickly locked the door. I peeped through the window, took a glimpse of him as he vanished into the dark.”
He identified the victim as Thembela Moyo of Mahlabathini village.
Toma said the woman narrated to him that as she was going home after work with her workmate identified as Khulekani Khumalo, three robbers attacked them.
“The three robbers stabbed Khulekani. As the two robbers were dragging Khulekani into the bush, one tried to rape her. She overpowered him and managed to escape but the man chased after her,” he said.
“I called her boss who asked his security guards to go and look for Khulekani. Other members of the community and I accompanied the guards and went to look for Khulekani. We spotted three men, one wearing the same overall I had seen earlier on chasing after Thembela and we gave chase. The one in blue overall was caught; they brought him to my house and Thembela Mpofu identified him as one of the culprits who had robbed them, stabbed Khulekani and tried to rape her.”
He said while they were still at his homestead he received a call that Khulekani was badly injured and needed urgent medical attention.
“We drove to Khulekani’s homestead in the company of the perpetrator who was identified as Tinashe Gonde. Upon arrival the Mahlabatini villagers were gathered at Khulekani’s homestead,” he said.
Toma said he later surrendered Tinashe Gonde to police at Inyathi Police Camp.
“Earlier on Tinashe had told the community that he works with the police, and among the three of them one was a police officer so there was nothing we could do to him. He also told the angry community that he was going to be released the following morning. Khulekani was taken to hospital and he was admitted at Inyathi Hospital but later transferred to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo where he is currently hospitalised and battling for his life. The following morning Tinashe was out as per his words,” elaborated Toma.
He said one police officer at Inyathi Police Camp only identified as Assistant Inspector Moyo ordered the arrest of the security guards the following day for beating “innocent” Tinashe Gonde alleging they destroyed Thembela Moyo’s initial statement.
“Upon hearing that Tinashe was out I confronted the officer in charge, Inspector Mhaka, who told me that they released Tinashe so he can get medical attention. I asked why he didn’t go to the hospital under police guard, he never gave me a clear answer.”
He added: “The following morning, Inyathi residents together with the village headmen approached the officer in Charge to get answers as to why they had let a criminal walk free. He admitted that they made an error and they promised to rectify their mistake. Days passed by and we heard nothing from the police regarding this issue. After the second confrontation that is when I received a call from one Sargent Chamakwara who introduced himself as the officer investigating what had transpired on the 1st of May. He made me the state witness and he recorded my statement.To my surprise it’s now a month and we have never been to court. The day we were asked to go to court, officer Chamakwara made us sit outside for an hour or so only to come back to tell us that he would notify us the day we are going to attend court because Khulekani is still in hospital.”
Toma said on the 31st of May 2021 Sergeant Chamakwara called the victim, Thembela Moyo and him as the state witness to the police camp.
“Upon arrival we got accompanied by the accused Tinashe Gonde; we were told to sit on the same bench in the charge office the three of us and Sgt Chamakwara came to us and said ” ndakushedzerai kuti ndinzwisise nyaya yenyu muri three cause handiinzwisisi (I called you all here because I don’t understand your story,)” he said.
But Matabeleland North police spokesperson, Inspector Glory Banda denied the allegations adding the matter was already before the courts.
“I can assure you, we actually have operations targeting illegal gold miners so I wouldn’t want to dwell much on grapevine but what I can say is members of the public should feel free to give us any tipoff if ever they have got any information that can expose that,” said Inspector Banda.
“That is not true, I don’t want to explain much because you need to contact the courts, it’s an issue that is already at court,” said Inspector Banda.