Shangani traditional and community leaders in Chikombedzi are up in arms with authorities over the death of a villager who was allegedly fatally shot by a drunk police officer on Christmas Day.
By Garikai Mafirakureva
The villager is yet to be buried as the community is demanding justice and answers first.
A high-powered delegation led by Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira held a charged meeting with the community leaders on Wednesday at Chibwedziva Primary School, where national overseer for the Alliance Church, David Hadhlani, narrated how Tapiwa Gocheki was shot dead by a member of the Bravo Troops at Chibwedziva business centre.
“This is not the first time that policemen have killed a person here. Gezani, Chambuta and Chibwedziva have become torture camps. Police are meting instant justice in these areas. We need to mend the relationship between the police and the community,” Hadhlani said.
“In 2010, police from the Support Unit beat a drunken reveller to death. Again in 2014, police beat another man to death at Shulugu Primary School in Gezani, while his children and wife watched. Right now, they shot a teenager to death on Christmas Day and the boy is yet to be buried.”
He said the area was prone to drought and most of the children use illegal entry points into Mozambique on their way to South Africa to look for work.
“Unfortunately, they are made to pay hefty bribes for safe passage by soldiers patrolling the border area. Those who fail to pay the bribes are brutally beaten,” Hadhlani said.
He outlined conditions that should be met before burial of the victim, including arresting the officer responsible for the shooting and financial assistance to the family of the deceased.
A visibly angry Chiredzi East MP Denford Masiya (Zanu PF) said Shangani people were looked down upon and victimised on tribal grounds.
“In fact, one important point I should raise is that the Police Support Unit should not be allowed to operate in the community because of the nature of their training,” he said.
Retired Brigadier-General Callisto Gwanetsa, who is Chiredzi South legislator (Zanu PF), said: “I was voted into office by the marginalised Shangani people, but I am Karanga.
On the other hand, I am a former soldier and Masiya is a former CIO [Central Intelligence Organisation operative]. If police continue to beat and kill people here, what do you expect the people to think about the two of us?”
However, it was finally resolved that the deceased be buried and the family should be financially assisted with funeral costs, and police should conduct awareness campaigns to rebuild the strained relationship between the law enforcement agents and the community.
Among those constituting the delegation were all the four Chiredzi legislators, the provincial administrator and other senior government officials, as well as members of the Joint Operations Command.
Also present to represent the Shangani people was Chief Matsimavele, village heads and other Shangani traditional leaders.