Fans condemn violence. . . Call for stiffer penalties as six arrested Themba Siziba

Nkosilathi Sibanda, [email protected],zw

SUPPORTERS of both Dynamos and Highlanders Football Clubs have called on authorities to impose stiffer penalties on perpetrators of violence that marred the titanic clash between the two teams in Bulawayo on Sunday.

In a show of unison, both camps of the most followed teams in the Castle Lager Premiership condemned the unruly acts that tainted the blockbuster match, saying the law has to stamp a heavy hand so as to deter would-be violators in the future.

In a series of interviews in the city yesterday, Zimpapers Sports Hub talked to a number of supporters who did not mince their words in wishing hooligans to be punished.

Other quarters went to the extent of advising the courts to jail the wrong doers.

Well known Highlanders supporter, Chunkie Dube of the Cowdray Park Chapter said what his fellow supporters did in invading the pitch must not be condoned.

Chunkie Dube

“In all fairness, the violence that characterised the Sunday match was an embarrassment to the whole Highlanders family. We condemn those actions to the fullest. It will cost the team and also weigh down on the supporters in the campaign to maintain our good run for the championship,” said Dube.

He pointed out that there was no need for the Bosso fans seated at the Soweto bay to get rowdy as there was still enough time for the team to recover and possibly win the game.

The game met an abrupt end just after 38 minutes, with Dynamos leading 2-0.

“Maybe we could have scored a goal sooner and found an equaliser. Such is the nature of the game, it is not over until it’s over, we always play and watch the game guided by hope and faith. No one knows when the goals come. Football followers will remember how Arsenal scored six goals in two minutes against Manchester United, who knows, we could have achieved the same.”

Dube said as a supporters chapter, they will lobby for educational campaigns to have as many of the team’s fans being informed on the effects of violence.

Events of the Sunday game irritated many of the fans, to a point that one Themba Siziba, a Bosso fan said those unruly elements were not true supporters of the team.

“We condemn such behaviour from the so called Highlanders faithfuls. It was very bad for football, considering that the country has just had its ban by Fifa being lifted. Such actions bring shame to our efforts of having a clean bill in the game of football.

“Of course it was a questionable decision that the referee made but, supporters did not need to do that. The game was still in its early stages in the first half. We ended up stopping what was a spectacular match, coming from last Saturday where most of us had gone to commemorate King Mzilikazi in Matobo. The event was a perfect build up to the game but, those rowdy criminals spoiled the party. May they not find peace and be punished,” said Siziba.

The disapproval of the acts was also expressed by city socialite and Bosso follower Brilliant Moyo.

He pleaded for forgiveness from Dynamos supporters.

“As Highlanders supporters we feel embarrassed by what happened. We are a family as supporters of both teams but when our beautiful game turns ugly like that, it is not good at all. Personally I do not condone violence of any level.

“On behalf of all Highlanders supporters, I would like to say we are sorry to the football fraternity. May the Dynamos supporters find it in their hearts to forgive. We will have to educate our fans to abstain from barbaric behaviour.

“I urge Highlanders fans to take heed and respect the team and the position it is on the log. Now that some of us decided to invade the pitch and chase the police, it means we are to pay a fine. Worse off, we all know that the team has no money. 

“We embarrass our sponsors too. We just have to behave well as mature people. To those who were arrested, let it be a hard lesson to them. They must be punished in equal measure, given that people got injured and others had their cars damaged, with some losing valuables in the squabble.”

Kenneth Chokuda, a staunch Dynamos supporter from Cowdray Park suburb said he had brought along his family to the game and was left ruing his decision.

He called for law enforcers and the courts to make sure the perpetrators go to jail.

“I almost put my wife and kids in danger. I was distraught to say the least. All those who were arrested have to face jail time because all these years, violators are only fined and pardoned. They return to the streets and enter stadia with same intensions of causing violence. Jail is the best measure,” said Chokuda who revealed it would take time for his family to heal from the trauma.

For Kudakwashe Mugunzwa, in as much as fines are the right penalty for violent behaviour, there was a serious need to educate fans on the dire effects of violence.

“People do come to football with different feelings, we accept that. I don’t condone violence of any form in our sport. If there are people arrested so far, I would propose those hooligans get released and be educated. They have to be seated down and educated on what sport and football is. They have to be taught the laws of the game and how their behaviour impacted the game,” he said.

Bruce Munyoro another Dynamos supporter in the city said violence has no room in civilised society. He said players and fans live together in harmony off the pitch.

“We are all one, there is no need to fight when we leave stadia we co-exist in the streets, work, town, schools, everywhere, why fight just over a 90-minute engagement. Fans need education, violence risks both victim and perpetrator’s life,” said Munyoro.

Meanwhile, police in Bulawayo, as of yesterday afternoon had arrested just six people in connection with violent behaviour, following the gory incidents at Barbourfields.

Brilliant Moyo

 During the skirmishes, police confirmed that eight people were injured but have since been treated and were recovering.

Of the six who are in detention, one was charged for being found with a firearm, although with an empty cartridge.

Bulawayo Provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Abednico Ncube confirmed the development to Zimpapers Sports Hub.

Inspector Abednico Ncube

“We are warning members of the public to desist from acts of violence. This follows an uncalled for and avoidable conflict which occurred at Barbourfields stadium on Sunday. Circumstances are that there was a Premier Soccer League match between Highlanders and Dynamos, the match was then abandoned after the supporters invaded the pitch, erupting violence which led to people being injured and also to malicious damage to property.

“Eight people sustained varying degrees of injuries but are all in a stable condition. So far six people have been arrested where four are being charged for criminal nuisance, one for failing to secure a firearm after his cash in transit revolver with an empty magazine was found in custody of his girlfriend who was also  arrested. 

“Police would therefore like to warn members of the public to desist from this violent behaviour. Such wayward and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated as the consequences lead to property damage and unnecessary loss of life. People should not take violence as a sport,” said Insp Ncube.

Insp Ncube implored football fans to guard against being rowdy. He said they must not have thoughts of interfering with the process and outcome of matches in anyway. 

“They should understand that they go to watch matches not to unduly interfere with the play.”

It is understood that police in Bulawayo have this time pulled out all their crime investigative skills, with Inspector Ncube saying they took pictorial footage that would help in identifying culprits.

“We have pictures captured of people engaged in violent acts and we appeal for peace and to the members of the public to come forward with such and any information that may assist the police in our investigations. 

“We are in the same vein, calling members of the public to shun violence, remain peaceful and cooperate with the law enforcement agents, as has always been the case in Bulawayo. 

“The Bulawayo community is known for peace and this incident should not take anything away from the good relations that exist.”

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