Rogue soldiers: Zimbabwean military generals come out guns blazing




Brigadier-General Augustine Chipwere

HARARE – People must report any member of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) engaging in criminal activities or unbecoming behaviour, the ZDF said in a statement yesterday after seven people died in three recent shootings, one involving a robbery, one involving a soldier now in custody reacting to a mob attack and another involving a man who ignored warnings in a cantonment area.

Brigadier-General Augustine Chipwere, in a statement yesterday, expressed the ZDF’s regret at the deaths.

“The ZDF acknowledges and regrets the loss of innocent lives and deeply commiserates with the bereaved families and communities. The ZDF will assist all the bereaved families in accordance with regulations pertaining to such incidents.

“The ZDF wishes to appeal to members of the public to report any member of the ZDF who behaves in a criminal manner or displays behaviour not in keeping with the ZDF code of conduct, to the nearest cantonment area or to phone the following numbers 024 2792661 and 071 2808007 so that corrective action is taken promptly,” Brig-Gen Chipwere said.

In the first incident, a ZDF member who was on patrol on Christmas Eve within the cantonment area at Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base in Gweru shot and injured Painos Zihesvu Dzvetsvera who later succumbed to his injuries.

Brig-Gen Chipwere said the death could have been prevented had the late Mr Dzvetsvera observed and complied with sign posts around the cantonment area and instructions by the patrol.

On the same day Sergeant Lameck Kabara and Corporal Christopher Charuma were part of an armed robbery gang at 2345 Fern Road, Hatfield in Harare that resulted in the death of Elvis Chijaka and serious injury to Brian Chijaka. The two soldiers and their accomplices are already before the courts.

In the third incident on Christmas Day, there was a shooting at Wanganui Shops in Mhondoro Ngezi at around 6pm resulting in the death of five people.

According to Brig-Gen Chipwere, investigations indicate Lance Corporal Monga had a misunderstanding with a civilian, Brian Mutero, at the shops resulting in a mob attack on Lance Corporal Monga.

After bring cornered and in the melee and confusion that followed, Lance Corporal Monga warned the crowd by firing three rounds into the air.

“Despite the warning shots, the crowd continued to close in on him. He then fired his weapon into the crowd thereby killing four people on the spot and injuring four others, of whom one later died at a local clinic. The other three who sustained minor injuries were medically attended to and discharged from hospital,” Brig-Gen Chipwere said.

He said after the incident, Lance Corporal Monga then sought assistance from a nearby school where one of the teachers drove him to the nearest police station but out of fear, the police officers who were manning the police station could not effect an arrest.

The soldier then walked throughout the night to his camp where he handed himself over to the military authorities who in turn surrendered him to the police. – Herald