Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has appealed for peace among the greater Victoria Falls community to allow the law to take its course following fatal shooting of two Chisuma villagers by soldiers recently.
Addressing hundreds of mourners drawn from Victoria Falls town, Cjidobe and Kachechete wards that gathered for a double burial of Morgan Sibanda (36) and Mr Dumisani Mpofu (38) in Chisuma 2 village under Chief Mvutu on Tuesday, One Infantry Brigade Deputy Commander Colonel Maxwell Masuku said the law should take its course.
Col Masuku had been literally camped in the community since last week engaging the local leadership in a series of meetings over the issue.
The meetings were between the army, police, traditional leaders, councillors and villagers.
He told mourners that the incident tarnished the image of the army which depends on the community.
“This was an accident and the matter is now in the hands of the police. The case is now in the courts and let’s allow the law to take its course. The issue does not sit well with us in terms of our image in the community. As ZNA we are what we are because of the community, if the community is not there we are not there too,” said Col Masuku.
He said the army will always work with the community for development.
Bernard Sibanda (30) and Bonang Nare (21) who are both stationed at 1.2 Infantry Battalion in Hwange have since appeared in court facing two counts of murder and were remanded in custody to Friday next week.
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The soldiers were deployed to Chisuma together with police to enforce anti-poaching activities along Zambezi River on the border with Zambia.
ZNA assisted in preparing for the burial and transported the bodies from Victoria Falls Hospital mortuary to Chisuma.
The deceased who were cousins were buried about 200 metres apart at their respective families’ cemeteries.
Sibanda who was known as Zhuzha in the community, was a rafting guide employed by Wild Horizons and left behind four children and a wife while Mpofu was single and not employed.
Wild Horizons corporate affairs director Ms Barbara Murasiranwa said the rafting sector had lost a valuable worker who was instrumental in various tourism activities including retrieval of bodies of people who drowned.
The community wants Government to institute an inquest into the shooting.
They also called for relocation of the army and police base from Chisuma Primary School to a disused camp near Zambezi River saying this would help quell emotions among community members.
“As a community let’s be calm as the issue is being handled at a higher authority. We call on Government to make an inquiry on the shooting,” said Kachechete ward councillor Givemeagain Moyo.
His sentiments were echoed by Victoria Falls Mayor Cllr Somveli Dlamini and Hwange West Constituency MP Godfrey Dube who said he will push for the inquest.