SIX soldiers fatally shot at four villagers in Gweru, killing one and injuring three for reportedly confronting them on why they were terrorising villagers near Flamingo tollgate along Gweru-Shurugwi road recently.
According to police, the six are now under custody facing murder, attempted murder and assault charges.
The six are Lance Corporal Fortune Mambure (30), Lieutenant Shaibu Ndara (24), Corporal Zinyanya Prince (32), Corporal Matenda Willard (31), Lance Corporal Walter Chidhakwa (33) and Lance Corporal Simbarashe Mashongahande (36).
They are all stationed at 5,2 Infantry Battalion, Battlefields and had been deployed at Guinea Fowl, ZBC Mast on guard duties.
The deceased was identified as Tatenda Munetsiwa while the injured are Munetsiwa Matambanadzo (42), Farai Vakirai (32) and Simoni Chitsinho (32).
According to police documents, the six soldiers were in civilian clothing on the night of 16 January 2021 when they booked an AK rifle, serial number 60253 and a magazine with 28 rounds.
They then went out on patrol targeting copper cable thieves who usually steal in the surrounding areas.
“The accused persons went around beating people they met along their way accusing them of being copper thieves,” police documents read.
The now deceased and the injured three were at a birthday party in the village and were part of a group that responded to a distress call by some villagers who were being assaulted by the soldiers.
The villagers confronted the soldiers telling them to stop the abuses.
“The accused began assaulting Tatenda Munetsiwa and the complainants with iron bars, fists and booted feet and they tried to defend themselves resulting in accused one firing ten rounds towards them.
“Fearing for their lives, complainants ran into the darkness but Tatenda Munetsiwa was shot on the hip and he fell down, started bleeding and died as a result of the gunshot.
“Munetsiwa Matambanadzo was shot on the left thigh and Farai Vakirai was shot on the left side of the chest and Simoni Chitsinho was assaulted all over the body with iron bars, fists and booted feet.
“The accused persons returned to their base and booked in their rifle now with 18 rounds at about 2220 hours.
“The three complainants rushed to the Guinea Fowl army base and reported their case to the base commander Major Hlabiso thinking they had been attacked by robbers.
“Major Hlabiso advised them to go and seek medical assistance at Gweru General Hospital. The complainants reported at ZRP Gweru rural.
“Scene was attended by ZRP Gweru Rural, CID Scenes of Crime and CID Gweru. Body of Tatenda Munetsiwa was facing upwards, there was a small, punctured wound on the right side of the hip and a big opening wound on the left side of the hip.
“There was blood on the right leg. Body was searched and nothing was recovered from it. Four empty cartridges were recovered near the body along Gweru-Shurugwi road.”
Interviews were done with the six who admitted firing at the villagers in self-defence.
“Accused number 1 indicated where he had kept the rifle and it was recovered under his bed with a magazine of 18 rounds.
“The accused were arrested and are currently detained at ZRP Gweru central, DB numbers 218-223/2021 refer.
“The AK rifle and spent cartridges are yet to be sent to ballistics for examination.
“The body was conveyed to Gweru General Hospital mortuary awaiting postmortem. Complainant 1 and 2 were admitted at Gweru General Hospital and their conditions are shot is serious. Complainant 3 was not referred to hospital. ZRP Gweru Rural CR 55-58/01/21 refer,” police reports indicated.