Acts of violence have once again resurfaced at our local football matches just when we thought we had done away with such behaviour.
The latest incident happened during the Chibuku Super Cup first round encounter between Black Rhinos and Dynamos at Gwanzura Stadium on Sunday after a fistfight between DeMbare’s Roderick Mutuma and Rhinos’ Obey Gada.
The brawl, which happened in full view of the spectators, saw the two players being sent off, while Rhinos gaffer Jostein Mathuthu was also sent to the terraces for remonstrating with referee Batsirai Muchenje over the disturbance.
Only a week earlier, the ugly side of the game reared its head during an ill-tempered Castle Lager Premier Soccer League derby between Dynamos and Highlanders at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo.
A Highlanders FC fan, Thembelenkosini Hloli (24) of Sizinda, was allegedly stabbed in the stomach at a bus terminus in Bulawayo by suspected rival fans after the match that the Harare giants won 1-0.
Nine supporters suspected of killing the Highlanders fan were arrested and later granted bail, while two other supporters were arrested for malicious damage to property.
Only last month, Black Rhinos and Mighty Warriors player Rufaro Machingura was arrested after kicking match referee Mercy Maimbo in the face, accusing her of helping Inline Academy win the NetOne knockout tournament at Rufaro Stadium.
Against the backdrop of these acts of violence, our question is: Are we doing enough to stop violence at our football matches? Are those entrusted with enforcing order at these games doing their job or are they slackening?
Don’t they know that there are women and children in the stadium watching the beautiful game?
Magistrate Sibongile Msipa last week summed it all up while granting bail to the nine fans suspected of killing the Highlanders fan.
In her ruling, Msipa criticised the police for failure to carry out their duty as public officials as they had failed to give substantial evidence linking the nine suspects to the crime.
Following the incident at Barbourfields, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) released a strongly-worded statement condemning acts of violence at football matches.
In the statement, PSL chairman Twine Phiri castigated acts of violence, saying the league would come hard on any club whose supporters perpetrated violence during their matches.
Phiri also suggested programmes that discourage hooliganism in collaboration with law enforcement agents in a campaign aimed at stemming the spread of football violence.
We hope the PSL takes stern disciplinary measures against clubs which engage in these acts of violence, while the police, who are paid handsome levies from gate takings, also do a thorough job in ensuring that our stadiums do not become a haven for hooligans.