TERROR has gripped Nhwali village in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, where a marauding gang has unleashed a wave of violence, viciously assaulting villagers and leaving many nursing broken limbs.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The Scorpions gang reportedly claims to have protection from high offices, including top police officers.
Villagers claimed that the gang was allegedly protected by Police Deputy Commissioner-General Learn Ncube, who reportedly comes from Zongwani village in the area, to evade arrest and prosecution.
Indications are that the alleged thugs first made their presence known in the last quarter of 2019, claiming to be neighbourhood watch committees whose duty was to eradicate crime in the area.
However, the gang has since morphed into a terror unit, intimidating, terrorising and beating up villagers for no apparent reason while also imposing a dusk to dawn curfew in the area.
Nhlanhla Moyo, one of the victims, claims to have been severely beaten up with a steel hammer by the Scorpions as recent as Monday, resulting in him sustaining a broken leg.
“It all happened around 9pm when I was on my way home. I was accosted by the thugs, who accused me of not heeding to their curfew. I was made to roll on the ground as they whipped me with a sjambok all over the body after which they used a hammer to break my leg,” Moyo, who was discharged from Gwanda District Hospital yesterday said.
Prince Moyo, another victim, said: “The same happened to me late last year and several other villagers, but fortunately, for me they did not leave me with broken bones. We are living in fear of the terror group, which has never been arrested despite us making several reports to the police.”
Kenneth Sibanda also confirmed that he was beaten up on January 3, but declined to shed more light on the incident over the phone saying he was only comfortable to have a face-to-face interview with Southern Eye.
“Yes, I was beaten on January 3, but I would be comfortable if we meet and talk face-to-face,” he said curtly.
Other villagers who reportedly fell victim to the marauding gang were Lebanon Sibanda, Editor Ndlovu, Prayers Ndlovu, one Diliza, Murumwa and Saddam.
On Ncube protecting the gang, the victims were evasive, but said what they suspect was that the terror group was operating either under police or politicians’ protection.
Contacted for comment, DCG Ncube professed ignorance about the Scorpions and referred Southern Eye to Matabeleland South provincial police.
“I am not aware of such cases, probably we also have provincial spokesperson and officer commanding province, you can find out if they received such reports or you can still check with national spokesperson Assistant Commission (Paul) Nyathi. What I know are cases of stocktheft which happen there. Since you know, I was sometime officer commanding there, so sometimes people tend to inform me about them. As for the Scorpions you are asking about, I do not know anything about them,” Ncube said.
“If they (people) have complaints, they are allowed to approach the officer commanding police up to Commissioner-General (Godwin Matanga).”
Matabeleland South acting police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena said: “I have checked with the Guyu police and they said they never received any assault cases. There are no such reports. Also, they professed ignorance about the gangs you mention.”
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed receiving a report that Chief Marupi and one Prince had reported the matter to police.
“The issue you were referring to, I can confirm that there is Chief Marupi and one Prince who visited Matabeleland South Officer Commanding today (yesterday) raising the issue about Nhwali area, where they said a group called Scorpion was terrorising villagers,” he said.
“But of interest is that the same Prince is a suspect of stock theft cases that were committed in that area. He also is linked to a case where he made a report that he was assaulted, which is still pending in the courts.
“However, I want to say that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is not taking the issue of Scorpions lightly as we have since sent a team of investigators to go there and find out what is happening. I also want to warn all criminal elements who whether commit violence or other criminal activities that the law will take its course.”
However, victims of the beatings told Southern Eye that insiders at Guyu Police Station told them that they were powerless to deal with the marauding gangs.
“They are either never arrested, or arrested and released without charge,” one of the villagers said.
This comes hard on the heels of violence orchestrated by machete gangs operating under code names “MaShurugwi” or “Mabhemba”.
The armed thugs were reportedly sponsored by politicians to wreak havoc with impunity mostly in the mining areas countrywide.