One dead in violent Christmas Day police clashes with villagers in Chiredzi

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By Staff Reporter

A CHIREDZI man died on Christmas Day during violent clashes between police and local villagers with two police officers left nursing severe head injuries.

This is according to a leaked memo from the police Officer Commanding Chiredzi District which was addressed to the Officer Commanding Masvingo Province.

The tensions between police and villagers in rural Chibwedziwa area in Chiredzi emanate from a 2010 incident in which a local villager was beaten to death by members of the police’s support unit.

Since then, the villagers have become hostile to the law enforcement agents with violent clashes between the parties now a common feature especially during public gatherings.

Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Charity Mazula could neither confirm nor deny the incident saying she was yet to be briefed on the matter.

However, the leaked memo said the violent clashes started when four officers on duty arrested one Liberty Makondo for assaulting a fellow villager at Chibwedziwa business centre.

“The (police) details arrested the accused person for assault, the crowd which was at the shopping centre mobilised each other violently demanding the release of the arrested accused person chanting songs and throwing stones.

“The police fired warning shots to scare the mob but the mob continued violently demanding the release of the accused person.

“The police ran away to their base and the crowd then followed to the base and informing the police that Tapiwa Gocheke had been shot and was injured on the thighs during the violence,” reads the memo.

Three officers returned to the scene and ferried the injured to Chimbwedziwa clinic.

While at the clinic, according to the memo, the crowd mobilised again to go and throw stones at the police while blaming them for the shooting incident.

The police details had to flee the clinic in fear for their lives.

“Investigations are underway. Chikombedzi RRB number 3300991 refers,” read the memo, which added, “Warning shots fired by the police were necessary since the crowd was very violent against the police. Stones were thrown to police which resulted in injuring two.

“There is tension between police and the Chibwedziwa community.”

Gocheke was pronounced dead the following morning as a result of the gunshot injuries.

Inquiries by the police led to the discovery of an AK 47 riffle and a magazine with 24 rounds of ammunition which was dumped at the clinic by unknown individuals.