Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
SIX soldiers, including a lieutenant, have been arrested for allegedly firing an AK 47 assault rifle towards four villagers who had confronted them on why they were assaulting defenceless people they came across during a patrol, killing one on the spot.
The soldiers, namely Lieutenant Shaibu Ndara (24), Lance Corporals Fortune Mambure (30), Walter Chikwada (33) Simbarashe Mashongahande (36) and Corporals Prince Zinyanya (32) Willard Matenda (31) all of 5.2 Infantry Battalion, Battlefields, appeared yesterday before Gweru Provincial Magistrate Mr Edwin Marecha.
Ndara and Mambure are jointly charged for fatally shooting Tatenda Munetsiwa.
Chikwada, Mashongahande, Zinyanya and Matenda are facing allegations of assault after they assaulted three villagers, Munetsiwa Matambanadzo (42) Farai Vakirai (32) and Simoni Chitsinho (32).
Ndara and Mambure were denied bail and advised to apply to the High Court.
Chikwada, Mashongahande, Zinyanya and Matenda were remanded out of custody to February 2 on $5000 bail each.
Appearing for the State, Mr Frederick Matsheza told the court that on January 16 at about 8.45PM, the six booked an AK rifle armed with a magazine of 28 rounds as they went out on patrol targeting copper cable thieves who usually steal in surrounding areas near Flamingo Tollgate in Guinea Fowl along Gweru-Shurugwi Road.
The court heard that they were allegedly all in civilian attire.
Ndara, Mambure, Chikwada, Mashongahande, Zinyanya and Matenda allegedly went about assaulting people they met along the way accusing them of being copper cables thieves.
The court heard that villagers Munetsiwa Matambanadzo (42), Farai Vakirai (32), Simoni Chitsinho (32) and Tatenda Munetsiwa were allegedly at a birthday party in the village.
Matambanadzo, Vakirai, Chitsinho and Munetsiwa were allegedly part of a group of villagers who responded to a distress call from fellow villagers who were being assaulted by the accused persons before confronting them.
The villagers, the court heard, told the accused persons who were in civilian attire to stop assaulting fellow villagers.
The court heard that the accused people allegedly began assaulting Matambanadzo and the other complainants with iron bars, fists and booted feet.
The villagers tried to defend themselves resulting in Ndara allegedly ordering Mambure to open fire on the villagers.
Fearing for their lives, the court heard that Matambanadzo, Vakirai, Chitsinho and Munetsiwa allegedly ran into the darkness.
Munetsiwa was allegedly shot on the hip and he fell down, started bleeding and died as a result of the gunshot.
Vakirai, the court heard, was allegedly shot on the left side of the chest.
The court heard that Ndara, Mambure, Chikwada, Mashongahande, Zinyanya and Matenda returned to their base at about 10pm.
Matambanadzo, Vakirai and Chitsinho rushed to the Guinea Fowl Army Base and reported the case thinking that they had been attacked by armed robbers.