A SERVING top military official and a police officer were yesterday unmasked as leaders of the deadly protests in the Epworth dormitory town, which led to the death of civilians and looting of shops.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/ XOLISANI NCUBE
Some of the hundreds of protesters arrested over the last three days appear at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts yesterday
This came as more Zanu PF officials were exposed for their riotous role during the three-day mass stayaway organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and social movements to protest the sharp fuel price hikes announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Saturday.
Lieutenant Morrosi Carnage of Inkomo Mounted Regiment, who was arrested together with other 60 protesters, appeared before Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo yesterday charged with public violence.
While opposing bail, Epworth police officer-in-charge Peter Mangwende told the court that Carnage was one of the leaders who led the violent protesters from the front.
Mangwende also told court that a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Ignatius Zuze, was also shot while leading the protesters.
However, Zuze could not be located at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, where he was supposed to be under treatment.
Carnage and his 60 alleged accomplices are represented by members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights — Kossam Ncube, Marufu Mandevere and Nontokhozo Dube-Tachiona.
The lawyers took the State to task after prison doctors failed to treat and examine the suspects, who were severely assaulted by the police and some had visible injury marks.
Mandevere, however, successfully filed for the accused persons to be examined by private doctors, saying the court should have granted the order to have them treated.
“The court cannot just watch. These accused persons were severely assaulted and some have visible injury marks. The suspects cannot lose dignity or human rights because of the arrest. This can happen to anyone. The court needs to maintain the accused person’s rights,” Mandevere said.
The defence applied for bail pending trial, but the State opposed, saying they must proceed to trial.
Mapfumo postponed the matter to today for continuation.
Eight other Zanu PF youth leaders have appeared in court facing allegations of public violence and looting after they allegedly burnt a Zupco bus along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway before they looted a shop belonging to Chegutu East MP Webster Shamu (Zanu PF).
Zanu PF Harare provincial youth league boss Godwin Gomwe was on Wednesday night also reportedly assaulted by soldiers for leading a terror group that was attacking suspected MDC supporters in Budiriro as well as participating in looting under the guise of restoring peace.
Yesterday, a subdued Gomwe had promised to discuss the issue with NewsDay later in the evening, as he claimed to be with “certain important people” discussing important matters.
“Can I call you later. I have your mobile number. I am with important people here, talking something very important. I will call in 30 minutes time,” Gomwe said in a hushed tone.
After 30 minutes, Gomwe was not picking up calls. He also did not respond to messages sent to his mobile phone.
But Zanu PF insiders said the youth league boss was leading a gang of 70 youths that went on a rampage in Budiriro and other residential areas, assaulting known MDC supporters, accusing them of having participated in the protests before he unleashed his troops to loot some shops.
“He was using a fleet of 20 unmarked vehicles and he terrorised people, but luck ran out when they were stopped by the military, who wanted to know what they were doing and who had sanctioned their actions. He ignored them and went away. But the soldiers followed him to his residence, where he was assaulted together with members of his gang. He was left at Harare Central Police Station,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
The ruling party and government have blamed the opposition Nelson Chamisa-led MDC for orchestrating violence during the three-day national strike, to force the administration to address the economic decay bedevilling the country.
During the three-day stayaway, junior military officers, who were earlier reportedly moving around high-density suburbs beating up people for participating in the national strike that turned violent, were seen engaging residents, telling them to exercise their right peacefully.
In Dzivarasekwa and Mabvuku, the soldiers ordered residents to stay indoors and exercise their right to stay away peacefully by not barricading roads or attacking each other.
“The suffering you are going through is shared by everyone. But let us not be violent. Don’t barricade the roads, especially with big stones and logs, try something which is not violent. Do the stayaway in peace,” a soldier at Dzivarasekwa 4 said.
“Do whatever you want, we are supporting you, but don’t be violent. We had to beat you because you were being violent. We don’t want violence,” the soldier told the residents.
Earlier in the day, the military had subjected most men in Dzivarasekwa to beatings for allegedly barricading the roads to block traffic from getting into town or offering transport to anyone who wanted to get into town.
In Mabvuku, according to residents, soldiers summoned all men in the neighbourhood after they had clashed with them in the morning for allegedly blocking traffic.
“They told us that they were not against the idea of the stayaway or protests, but barricading of roads and destruction of property. They actually said they sympathised with ordinary citizens,” a resident told NewsDay.
Contacted for comment, Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore requested that written questions be brought to Josiah Magama Tongogara barracks.