BEITBRIDGE residents have slammed police for their slow action against Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) members accused of assaulting youthful Beitbridge paramount chief David Mbedzi (24) on January 1 this year.
BY REX MPHISA
The residents said the assault was a slap in the face on their culture.
Mbedzi, whose royal name is Tshitauze, was allegedly assaulted by soldiers as he was walking from Musina, South Africa with three relatives.
It is alleged the soldiers from 1 Independent Company stationed at Beitbridge, one of them female, lifted him by the belt, and took turns to assault him as they passed his passport to each other mocking him that he was too young to be a chief.
Tshitauze was set free after immigration regional manager, Nqobile Ncube intervened.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi referred questions to the ZNA.
ZNA spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Alphios Makotore said investigations were underway, but could not be drawn into shedding more light on what the duties of the ZNA members posted at the bridge involved.
“Investigations into the allegations are underway. A military brief is not for publication in the media and thank you for your inquiry,” Makotore said.
Yesterday Tshitauze said he had made a formal report to the police and had gone for medicals at the hospital.
“Police referred me to the hospital soon after the incident. The soldiers reneged on their promise to formally apologise,” Tshitauze who is also a student at the Great Zimbabwe University, said.
In separate interviews, the residents predominantly of the Venda tribe said they felt the magnitude of disrespect was high and demeaning of their culture.
“It is sad when people show such disrespect for traditional leaders. I hoped to engage the concerned soldiers, but something came up and I have to go to Gwanda,” Beitbridge East parliamentarian Albert Nguluvhe said.
“The values of our traditional leaders have been upheld always and we feel justice should take its course and soonest. We should not disrespect our culture despite our posting in government. Although I cannot judge anyone, I have no reason not to believe the chief,” he said.
Nguluvhe, without giving details, said he had sourced solar lights to illuminate the bridge which had become a crime hotspot frequented by snatch and dash criminals and armed robbers.
The Limpopo Civic Association said it was dismayed by the attack on the chief and had no kind words for the rogue soldiers.
“These are rogue soldiers. They are evil. They tarnish their employer and should be discharged from service. They can easily become robbers. How many other people have they done this to and cases going unreported? We condemn this insult on our culture and people. We have hosted many soldiers but never before did we encounter such behaviour,” a member of the group said on their social group with membership of the Venda people across the world.
Businessman and farmer Elias Chibi was more direct: “Culprits must be fired forthwith. Soldiers should also be removed from the border post.”
The soldiers deployed at the old Beitbridge guard the civil structure now reserved for pedestrians and the trains but are accused of abusing their station to demand passports, cash and at times sexual favours from travellers.
Beitbridge district administrator Kilibone Ndou said as a civil servant she was not able to comment.
Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira said he would take up the issue with the responsible authorities.
“I have asked Chief Tshitauze to send me all the details including his medical affidavits. I am going to take it up with the responsible authorities and see that justice is done. I learnt it through the Press but I have now asked him to give me a detailed report and documentation,” Charumbira said.