SIX soldiers from 5:2 Infantry Battalion at Battelfields were arrested on Sunday after they besieged a village, assaulted villagers and shot at individuals who intervened in Guinea Fowl, Gweru.
A memo by Officer Commanding Gweru Police Rural District gleaned by NewsDay dated January 17, 2021, stated that the six soldiers were facing murder, attempted murder and assault charges.
Tatenda Munetsiwa, one of the individuals who had intervened to stop the attacks was shot and later died.
The arrested soldiers are Lance Corporal Fortune Mambure, Lieutenant Shaibu Ndara, Corporal Zinyama Prince, Corporal Matenda Willard, Lance Corporal Walter Chikwada and Lance Corporal Simbarashe Mashongahande.
The incident took place in Guinea Fowl near Flamingo tollgate along the Gweru-Shurugwi Road.
“On 16 January 2021 at about 2045 hours, the six accused persons booked an AK rifle serial number 60253 armed with a magazine of 28 rounds as they went out on patrol, targeting copper cable thieves who usually steal in the surrounding areas. They were all in civilian attire. The accused persons went around beating people they met along the way, accusing them of being copper thieves.”
It is alleged that Munetsiwa and the complainants were at a birthday party in the village, and they teamed up with others to respond to a distress call made by some villagers who were under attack.
The now deceased and the complainants allegedly told the accused persons to stop attacking the villagers before the soldiers went berserk, attacking Munetsiwa and the complainants with iron bars while kicking and punching them.
“Fearing for their lives, the complainants ran into darkness, but Tatenda Munetsiwa was shot on the hip and he fell down. He bled and died as a result of the gunshot. Complainant one, Munetsiwa Matambanadzo was shot on the left thigh and Farai Vakirai was shot on the left side of the chest, while Simoni Chitsinho was assaulted all over the body with iron bars, fists and booted feet,” the memo read in part.
After the shootings, the soldiers allegedly returned to their base and booked in their rifles which were now left with 18 rounds, at about 2220 hours.
The complainants, the memo read, reported the matter at the Guinea Fowl army base to commander Major Hlabiso as they thought that they had been attacked by robbers. They later reported the matter to the police.
Police from ZRP Gweru Rural, CID Scenes of Crime and CID Gweru attended to the scene.
“Investigations were done at Guinea fowl Army base. The base occurrence book indicated that the six accused persons booked out an AK rifle with 28 rounds on patrol at around 2045 hours in the same area where the body was found. The accused persons booked in at about 2220 hours. They never informed the base commander about the shooting incident,” read the memo.