HWANGE — The Commander of 1:2 Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Mpulaeng Siziba, has been acquitted of the murder and poaching charges he was facing alongside his three subordinates.
Siziba was freed by the court, but the three junior officers were convicted for failure to secure their firearms leading to the death of three family members.
Siziba and his juniors — Sergeant Lizwe Mudimba (33), Corporal Manatsa Hlabano (32) and Lance Corporal Jameson Pirukayi (24) — were dragged to court on charges of negligently keeping their firearms, resulting in the death of three family members.
They were also being accused of poaching, but the court ruled that the quartet’s hunting escapades were above aboard.
However, Siziba’s juniors were fined $200 for failing to properly secure their firearms.
Charges against the four were that on January 26 this year, Siziba instructed his subordinates to withdraw three rifles and ammunition from the armoury in preparation for a hunt at Railways Farm 53 in the Lubangwe area in Hwange.
The following day, he allegedly ordered for an army truck to transport the three soldiers to the farm.
Between January 26 and 31, the trio shot and killed several game animals and carted the meat to their army base.
The court heard that during their stay at the farm, they kept their rifles behind a broken-down vehicle.
On January 31, the farm owner, Mthandazo Ndlovu, and his son Honest Ndlovu visited Railways Farm 53 from Victoria Falls.
On arrival, Mthandazo found his other son, Mandlenkosi, in the company of the soldiers and confronted him on why he was allowing soldiers to hunt at the farm.
Mthandazo had a heated exchange with Mandlenkosi, an ex-soldier.
In a fit of rage, Mandlenkosi grabbed one of the soldiers’ rifles and shot his father and brother killing them instantly, before turning the gun on himself.
He also died on the spot.