A group of rowdy soldiers allegedly stormed a police base in Mutare and assaulted police officers last Sunday.
According to a police memorandum from Provincial Police Investigating Officer Manicaland, written to Provincial Police Command Manicaland and copied to the Chief Staff Officer, a copy of which is in NewsDay’s possession, the clash was triggered by the arrest of a soldier by police at the ZRP Sakubva Musika base on allegations of kidnapping two Mutare men.
The memo says on March 11, three soldiers — identified as Corporal Themba Chibanda, Major Gambiza, both from 3 Engineers Camp in Mutare, and Sergeant Chari of 3 Brigade Military Police — approached a group of four Mutare residents at Sakubva market driving a Mitsubishi pick-up without registration plates.
The residents were identified in the police report as Martin Chitsinga (33), Albert Chagwa (24), Munyaradzi Mukwada (27) and Dickson Chitsinga (21).
“One of the soldiers took away a beret from complainant Number One (Martin)’s head and threw it into the motor vehicle but the complainant resisted arguing that the beret is (sic) a Zanu PF gear and not a military one,” the report reads.
This reportedly did not go down well with the soldiers who are said to have called for reinforcements from 3 Engineers Camp, Mutare.
The reinforcement, reads the police report, “reacted swiftly carrying wooden sticks, baton sticks and an AK rifle”.
“The accused persons forced complainants One and Two (Chitsinga and Chagwa) into their vehicle and took them to 3 Engineers Camp where they assaulted them with open hands, booted feet, sticks and poured water on them before releasing them,” the report says.
“At around 19:30 hours and at ZR Police Musika Base, complainants reported a case of kidnapping but during the compilation of the report, accused
Number One was seen at Sakubva Market and was arrested by police.
“A few minutes after the arrest of accused Number One, about 20 soldiers, some dressed in camouflage and others in civilian attire, armed with baton sticks and an AK rifle ransacked Sakubva Police Musika Base and indiscriminately started assaulting people.”
Among those assaulted were members of the police force identified as Sergeant Tsopotsa (Force Number 983229M), Constable Mahere (057022E), Constable Nicholas (071416B) and Constable Garikai, all of Sakubva Police Station.
The police officers are reported to have sustained minor injuries and no formal report had been made yet as of last Friday.
“The accused persons went on to re-kidnap complainant Number One in the presence of Number 072525F, Constable Musenyi, who was in police uniform manning the base. They took him to 3 Engineers Camp Mutare and during the process the complainant was severely assaulted all over the body with sticks and booted feet,” the report reads.
On the same day and at around 23:00 hours at ZRP Sakubva, another soldier identified as Captain Rufurwadzo of 3 Brigade, is reported to have come to the police base with the complainant in his custody.
“Captain Rufurwadzo requested for the release of accused Number One but the request was turned down.”
The police report also indicated on Monday, March 12, at about 08:30 hours about 30 soldiers clad in camouflage and led by one warrant officer identified as Chipise of 3 Engineers Camp approached the police demanding the release of accused Number One.
The soldiers later dispersed after one of the soldiers reportedly ordered them to leave the police station.
“On their way back to 3 Engineers Camp at around 09:00 hours, the soldiers passed through Zvirimugwara Restaurant at Sakubva Market and assaulted patrons, forcing them to sing the revolutionary song Zimbabwe Ndeyeropa Baba.
Particulars of the complainants in this incident are not known as yet as no formal complaint has been made. Investigations into the kidnapping and assault cases are underway under Sakubva Report Received Book (RRB) number 133547 and 1337637.”
According to the report, Sergeant Chari and Major Gambiza together with 15 others are still at large. Contacted for comment, acting Manicaland police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Enock Chishiri said he did not have full facts as yet.
“I heard about the case on Friday, but I am still to check on the correct facts of what really happened. I will be in a position to give a comprehensive statement on Monday (today),” said Chishiri, referring further questions to national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena.
Efforts to obtain comment from Bvudzijena and from the Zimbabwe National Army were fruitless up to the time of going to print last night.