Zvamaida Murwira and Elita Chikwati
Some of the victims of the August 1, 2018 post-election violence were shot while they were in the midst of a crowd with no soldiers in sight, a Commission of Inquiry heard yesterday.
News24 investigative journalist Maynard Manyowa said he did not see any soldiers when one of the victims, Ishmael Kumene, was fatally shot adjacent to the intersection of Cameron Street and Jason Moyo Avenue in Harare’s central business district during protests by people whom he said were MDC-Alliance supporters.
Another teenage victim, Simeon Chipokosa, who still has a bullet lodged in his body, said when he was shot, he was in the middle of a fleeing crowd, but did not see any member of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces although he heard gunshots.
Manyowa and Chipokosa said this while giving oral evidence before a Commission of Inquiry led by former South African president Mr Kgalema Motlanthe into the August 1, 2018 post-election violence which claimed six lives and left a trail of destruction of property.
Responding to questions from commissioners, Manyowa said while he did not know the origin of the bullet that fatally shot dead Mr Kumene, it was inconceivable for him to believe that soldiers were behind it since at that time they were not yet in sight.
“A group of protesters were running and as they were running, I noticed a guy wearing black and he took two steps and tumbled down.
“At the time he took those steps, there had been people behind him, but there were no soldiers at the time. I don’t know who shot the guy.
“There were gunshots going all over the directions. I think it could be people in the crowd who fired shots,” said Manyowa.
He said it was after about 10 minutes when soldiers holding whips emerged with some demonstrators throwing missiles at them.
Manyowa also saw soldiers beating up people with whips and demonstrators were attacking police and soldiers while other protesters were throwing back teargas canisters.
He said the mob that had gathered near Zanu-PF headquarters in the morning later came back in the afternoon and became riotous as they threw missiles destroying Zanu-PF elections materials including President Mnangagwa’s banner.
“The soldiers did come and people were running across all directions. The soldiers were holding whips and some were shooting in the air,” he said.
Manyowa said among the demonstrators were very young children who from the appearance and gestures were street children.
He said his camera and phone were also damaged by protesters while some of them banged the water cannons trucks.
Chipokosa, an Upper Six pupil, also gave his account where he said he was shot in the leg, but did not see soldiers anywhere near the incident as those that he had seen earlier on at Market Square Bus Terminus remained there.