POLICE have accused the ruling Zanu PF party of perpetrating the weekend violence in Kwekwe which left two opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters dead and 17 others injured, with eight in critical condition.
Police arrested 16 suspects, among them Zanu PF card-carrying youths, in connection with the murder of CCC member Mboneni Ncube (30), who was stabbed with a spear during the skirmishes.
Ncube died on admission to Kwekwe Central
The Zimbabwe Peace Project yesterday said two people died from the violent attack.
“Machete gangs suspected to be aligned to Zanu PF attacked a rally that was being addressed by CCC president Nelson Chamisa, killing two and seriously injuring others who are admitted in hospitals around Kwekwe,” ZPP said in a statement.
A police internal memorandum from the Kwekwe Criminal Investigations Department named four of the 16 as Edmore Shoshera (30), Perscy Mukwaturi (38), Sydney Samanyayi (29) and Albert Maketo (29), who were identified as Zanu PF card holders.
The other 12 were listed as unemployed youths.
Police also recovered a machete, a knife, a scale and two caps that were inscribed “ED” from the accused persons’ cars.
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Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the arrests.
Police have also launched a manhunt for Kennedy Simbi, who is believed to have stabbed Ncube to death.
According to the police, Chamisa was addressing the rally when the Zanu PF youths, who were wearing yellow T-shirts and had infiltrated the crowd, attacked the CCC supporters.
Ncube was stabbed thrice with a sharp object on the back and he died at Kwekwe Central Hospital, where other injured persons were also admitted.
“Police reacted to the scene and got information that the accused persons were hiding at Jessie Gardens, Mbizo 11, Kwekwe, which is about 1km from the venue where they raided accused persons,” read the police memo.
“Three motor vehicles were recovered at Jessie Gardens, where the accused were hiding. Searches were made in a silver Mercedes-Benz, registration AFK 6858 owned by one of the accused, Perscy Mukwaturi.”
But Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa yesterday disowned the youth and accused the police of working in cahoots with the opposition party to fabricate allegations against the ruling party.
“Social media is not the court of law. The police CID are clearly on a fishing expedition at the behest of CCC. (It is) just an irresponsible and unprofessional police office mostly heavily compromised. Murderers and violence mongers can wear any badge. Who knows, the party card could even have been planted,” Mutsvangwa told NewsDay yesterday.
“One more infantile gimmick by Chamisa and his ilk that is prone to faking abductions. These lies have not yielded power in two decades of ill-fated MDC-CCC politics. Come March 26 by-elections and 2023 national plebiscite, they will be out of power as Zimbabwe voters are not ever ready to be fooled.”
Zanu PF director for information Tafadzwa Mugwadi claimed vindication, tweeting: “We are vindicated. @Police Zimbabwe are doing a tremendous job in arresting culprits over Kwekwe violence. I hope that all those who incited violence through their recorded utterances calling for youths to revenge are brought to book as well. Amos Chibaya and (Happymore) Chidziva must face the law.”
Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Chamisa applauded the police for carrying out their duties “professionally” in investigating the Kwekwe violence.
The CCC leader described the police as “one of the best policing authority in the world”, who were often hindered from effectively performing their duties by political interference.
Chamisa said the opposition party was informed well in advance of the Zanu PF plots to disrupt his rallies.
He said the police had also been notified of the plan, but failed to act swiftly to stop the violence.
“The intention was to make sure that we did not address the rally. We appreciate the police, if what I have read is anything to go by, for their professionalism. Yes, we are not happy with what they did to us in Gokwe (on Saturday), but the fact that they have managed to investigate and certain people have been arrested, we must give kudos where they are due,” Chamisa said.
Meanwhile, 13 Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) youths were yesterday granted $10 000 bail each on charges of inciting violence and disturbing public peace on February 20 during during Chamisa’s star rally at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare.
They were also accused of obstructing the free movement of traffic by blowing whistles, horns and trumpets at the intersection of Kenneth Kaunda Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way in central Harare.
Caroline Mutimusakwa represented the State.