BY SILAS NKALA
A resident of Bulawayo’s peri-urban St Peters village is nursing gunshot wounds after municipal rangers went on the rampage beating residents before firing live ammunition in a dispute over armed robbery claims.
Police and the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) confirmed the shooting incident, which happened on April 30.
“We have charged the ranger with negligently causing serious bodily harm,” Bulawayo deputy police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele said.
MIHR condemned the shooting incident as barbaric and in violation of section 53 of the constitution which guarantees human rights.
In its findings, the human rights group said they received a report alleging that the rangers went on a shooting rampage and wounded a young man at St Peters village.
“The organisation conducted a community fact finding on the matter and in the process interviewed 14 community members, who include the shooting victim and some of his family members, young men who were arrested and beaten on the day, community leaders, the family where the shooting took place and other community eye witnesses,” reads the report.
The MIHR said one Austin Ncube went to the shops in the suburb with his friends to buy beer with a US$10 note on April 29.
“The shop lady then claimed that Ncube gave her US$1 and a scuffle ensued, but was resolved by the locals.
“On April 30, the shop lady brought a neighbourhood watch member claiming she was robbed of 1 600 rand by Ncube and his friends.
“The neighbourhood watch member said they should pay back US$20, which they refused.
“A council van with about 13 rangers came to the shops and at first it looked like they wanted to buy something, but did not.”
The rangers went on to arrest Kelvin Nkomo and Milton Dube whom they had found at the shops without informing them of the charges.
Locals protested, leading to the release of the duo.
The rangers later went to try and apprehend Ncube over armed robbery charges, but he ran away.
“It is then that the rangers began beating young men around with batons. The rangers began firing shots while chasing the young men. It is during that incident that they shot a front glass window at a house.
“One Dumisani Nkomo attempted to take pictures and a ranger grabbed his cellphone and crushed it on the ground before beating him.”
MIHR said one Thamsanqa Mchena tried to rescue Dumisani, but another ranger shot at him and the bullet hit him on the right thigh.
He was taken to Mpilo Hospital for treatment.