BY FORTUNE MBELE
POLICE arrested 15 people in connection with the violence that rocked Mandava in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match between FC Platinum and Highlanders on Saturday.
Violence erupted after FC Platinum was awarded a penalty which rowdy Highlanders fans protested and led to the abandonment of the match.
The penalty was awarded in the 82nd minute after referee Kuzivakwashe Jaravaza adjudged Highlanders defender Peter Muduhwa to have brought down FC Platinum’s Walter Musona inside the box but the decision irked the visiting fans and the match was abandoned with the score line at 1-1.
In a memo, police in Zvishavane have confirmed arresting 15 people and said investigations into the violence, which spilled out of the Mandava Stadium, were still in progress.
Those said to have been arrested are Marindiko Dube, Emmanuel Hove, Valentine Mutonhodza, Forget Ngwenyaya, Peter Gumbanjere, Victor Silangana, Dennis Gunda, Dorothy Moyo and Isaiah Gwatumba all from Zvishavane; Davison Sibanda, Chantelle Dube, Givemore Ncube, Progress Ndlovu, Prosper Moyo and Trust Sibanda.
“A total of 15 accused persons were arrested and detained for “disorderly conduct as defined in section 41 of the Criminal Law [Codification and Reform] Chapter 9.23. ZRP Zvishavane 1049/22-1063/22 refers.”
The police said after the penalty was awarded, Highlanders players disputed the decision and supporters on the Eastern Stand: “…who were predominantly in black and white regalia and supporting Highlanders reacted to the penalty decision by throwing missiles in the form of water bottles and stones into the pitch toward players, match officials and the police that had formed a barricade, forcing the match officials to stop the match.”
The memo said the fans scaled the perimeter fence and invaded the pitch while engagement was in progress. When the game appeared to resume, Bosso fans allegedly intensified their violent behaviour and in the process, a police dog was injured.
The melee continued into the central business district.
Despite reports that some people were injured, the police memo said there were no casualties.
Meanwhile, Highlanders issued a statement blaming the police.
“Highlanders Football Club would like to condemn in the strongest sense, the conduct of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers who were entrusted with the responsibility to provide security during a Premier Soccer League match between FC Platinum and Highlanders at Mandava Stadium on Saturday. The club understands ZRP to be a stakeholder of the game whose mandate is to provide security for players, officials and fans,” Highlanders said.
“The violent and thuggish behaviour by ZRP towards fans and players cannot be tolerated as it brings our football into disrepute. While the club does not condone pitch invasion and missile throwing by a section of football fans, it was unnecessary for ZRP to throw tear smoke towards fans as this behaviour ended up affecting players, officials and innocent fans.”
The club has made a commitment to engage all stakeholders in an effort to end all forms of hooligans at stadiums.
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