By Tinashe Mungazi
Police say they are investigating a case in which two Hwange women were hit by stray bullets fired by police officers during a raid on suspected informal coke extractors at the Hwange Colliery main plant on Saturday.
The stray bullets hit Zulani Mudenda (46) in the stomach and Twabona Nyoni (25) in the chest.
The two were returning home from taking a bath at a community bath facility when the incident took place.
Mudenda is currently receiving treatment at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo while Nyoni is admitted to St Patrick`s Hospital in the mining town.
In a statement on Monday, National Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said there was a confrontation between a truck driver McDonald Mpongweni and a police officer “leading to the sad scuffle.”
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police assures the public that investigations are being conducted in connection with the unfortunate shooting incident which occurred in Hwange on 22 August 2020. The incident resulted in the injury of Zulani Mudenda (46) and Twabona Nyoni (25) after police had reacted to a report of theft at Hwange Colliery Main Plant.
Police will conduct comprehensive investigations with a view to establish what actually transpired between the truck driver McDonald Mpongweni and the police officer leading to the sad scuffle. The lorry involved in the incident has since been impounded by the police while the two women are receiving treatment in Bulawayo and Hwange respectively,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
A relative to Nyoni who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were struggling to cover the medical bills.
“There is some money for medication that the two hospitals (Hwange Colliery and St Patrick’s) asked us to pay. Since this incident occurred during the time when we didn’t even have disposable income we are struggling to raise the required money. We were charged US$25 for the initial treatment and thereafter we need to buy more medicines that are meant to assist with the recovery of our relative,” said the relative.
A member of the Mudenda family confirmed that Zulani was transferred to Bulawayo where she underwent an operation.
“Yesterday she went for an operation at Mater dei hospital but her condition is not good since her injuries were serious. Doctors are still monitoring her condition but we remain hopeful that she will pull through,” she said.
Meanwhile, Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG), a research and advocacy civil society organisation whose mandate is to promote good governance of natural resources has condemned the use of guns to scare away people arguing that the incident was proof of an increase in human rights violations in the extractive sector.
“The conduct of the police is deplorable and is contrary to the rhetoric of the Government of Zimbabwe on promoting and protecting human right, including women’s rights as stipulated in regional and global frameworks that GoZ is part of (SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, CEDAW, Maputo Protocol).
Section 44 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe obligates the State and every person, including juristic persons, and every institution and agency of the government at every level to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights and freedoms set out in the Constitution,” CNRG said in a statement.
They also called on the government to investigate and address the violation and abuse in the extractive sector especially of women.
“We call on the government to thoroughly investigate the case and hold those responsible to account. Compensate victims of torture and police brutality. The Zimbabwe Gender Commission to investigate the abuse of women in the mining-affected communities and develop concrete recommendations that will address the vulnerability of women in mining communities.”