THE Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has been forced to publicly denounce its officers for their engagement in criminal activities following a spate of robberies and casual shootings by and involving soldiers.
In a statement on Friday, ZNA Brigadier-General Augustine Chipwere said the army does not condone criminal behaviour by its officers and urged the public to report any of them involved in such.
This comes after two soldiers were involved in an armed robbery incident in Chadcombe, Harare. It also comes after a soldier, currently in custody, shot and killed four people in Chegutu last week.
“ZDF recognises and regrets the loss of innocent lives and deeply sympathises with bereaved families and communities. The ZDF will assist all bereaved families in accordance with the regulations relating to such incidents,” Chipwere said.
“The ZDF would like to call on members of the public to report any ZDF member who behaves in a criminal manner or displays behavior that does not comply with the ZDF code of conduct, to the nearest cantonment area or to call the following numbers 024 2792661 and 071 2808007 so that corrective action can be taken quickly,” he said.
In the first incident, a member of the ZDF who was patrolling on Christmas Eve in the cantonment area of Josiah Tungamirai Air Base in Gweru shot and injured Painos Zihesvu Dzvetsvera who later succumbed to his injuries.
Chipwere said the death could have been avoided if Dzvetsvera had observed and obeyed the road signs around the cantonment area and the instructions of 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, which resulted in the death of Elvis Chijaka and serious injuries to Brian Chijaka. The two soldiers and their accomplices are already before the courts.
In the third incident on Christmas Day, a shooting took place in Wanganui stores in Mhondoro Ngezi at around 6 pm, resulting in the deaths of five people.
According to Brigadier General Chipwere, investigations indicate Lance Corporal Monga had a misunderstanding with a civilian, Brian Mutero, in the shops, which resulted in a mob attack on Lance Corporal Monga.
After being cornered and in the melee and confusion that followed, Lance Corporal Monga warned the crowd by firing three shots in the air.
“Despite the warning shots, the crowd continued to close in on him. He then fired his gun into the crowd, killing four instantly and injuring four others, one of whom later died at a local clinic. The other three who sustained minor injuries received medical attention and were released from hospital,” Chipwere said.
He said that after the incident Lance Corporal Monga then sought help from a nearby school where one of the teachers drove him to the nearest police station, but out of fear, the officers who attending the police station were unable to make an arrest.
The soldier then walked all night to his camp where he surrendered to the military authorities who in turn handed him over to the police.