Violence rocks Charge Office

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Suspected Zanu PF activists, members of the infamous Mbare-based Chipangano group, yesterday took their violent culture a gear up – causing mayhem right at the doorstep of Harare Central Police Station as they assaulted commuter omnibus operators at the Charge Office Bus Terminus in bid to seize control of the terminus.

Pandemonium broke out at the terminus when a Sunningdale kombi driver was assaulted by at least eight heavily-built men, alleged Chipangano foot soldiers, for daring to resist the takeover.

The Chipangano members invaded the rank and demanded that all commuter omnibuses plying the Sunningdale–City route should remit $1 to them on each trip, ostensibly for onward transmission to Zanu PF provincial offices.

But, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday disowned the rowdy youths, saying while he was not aware of the Charge Office incident, he believed the youths were not from his party.

“These are members of the opposition who are trying to soil the good image of our party. This Chipangano group does not belong to us,” Gumbo said. Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa is, however, on record claiming responsibility for the violence that erupted at Parliament Building, attributed to Zanu PF activists and members of the notorious Chipangano group. Mutasa said if they were arrested, his party would defend them legally because they belonged to the party.

Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau could not immediately comment on the violence or any arrests, saying he was yet to be furnished with the information.

“I don’t have information on that incident as yet. I will call you once I confirm what happened at the Charge Office,” Sabau said.

Up to the time of going to press last night, Sabau was saying he still did not have details of what transpired.
However, the youths — who claimed to be Chipangano members sent by senior Zanu PF officials at the Zanu PF provincial offices at Fourth Street offices — fought running battles with rank marshals, drivers and conductors.

Their demand to seize control of the rank was resisted by commuter omnibus operators who accused the group of daylight robbery.

A driver from Beat Motors, Zodwa Pawandiwa, who attempted to leave the rank without paying the youths, was pulled from the driver’s seat and dealt a blinding blow to the face. He had to be rushed to Parirenyatwa Hospital for treatment.

Police who were a stone’s throw away, in the Charge Office, were slow to act and when they finally did, they managed to arrest only three of the youths after temporary closure of the rank as marshals and conductors combined efforts to defend their territory.

A brother to the assaulted driver, who gave his name as Samutoko, told NewsDay the youths had attempted to take over the rank for the past two weeks, but the move was being resisted by the Sunningdale Commuter Association.

“We have our own association, and have been running our activities without any problems. These boys want to steal from us in the name of Zanu PF. Look, I am also Zanu PF and this is not what we do in the party. This is robbery,” said Samutoko.