By A Correspondent- A 16 year old Bulawayo girl was shot on the cheek after a police officer discharged his firearm to stop a fight, her family alleges.
The bullet went through one cheek and exited on the other.
Ayanda Tshuma, a Form 3 pupil at Sobukhazi High School, is admitted at Mpilo Central Hospital following the shooting on Monday night.
Ayanda was a bystander when police were called to a house in G-Square in Mzilikazi where two men were involved in a fist fight.
A witness said: “There was a fight between Thabani Magwenzi and Richard Goredema, who is a well-known drug dealer in the area. We suspect Goredema works with some police officers because they always come to his house but he is never arrested.
“I don’t know why they were fighting, but when the police arrived they handcuffed Thabani and started beating him. This incensed residents who asked the officers why they did not arrest Goredema as well.”
A relative of Ayanda, speaking on condition they were not named, said police began indiscriminately beating up people who had gathered to watch.
“An officer we only know as Shumba fired his gun into the air and people started running all over. When he fired the first shot, one of his colleagues shouted ‘isa panyama’ (put it on the flesh) and the next thing I remember Ayanda was lying down with blood all over her face.”
The relative said Ayanda’s mouth was swollen and doctors have recommended surgery after she complained of aching jaws and teeth.
The family said after the shooting, the police officers said they had called an ambulance but none arrived.
“We phoned a friend in Nguboyenja who has a car after we realised that the police were not treating the issue with urgency. We later made a report of the incident at Mzilikazi Police Station and they called homicide detectives to investigate,” the relative said.
The police officer named Shumba has allegedly been trying to bribe the family to withdraw their complaint.
“He has been following us to the hospital requesting that we don’t take action. He promised to cover all hospitals bills and he even offered to pay us US$3,000 in hush money. We’re not interested in money, we want justice for our daughter,” the relative said.
Thandekile Moyo, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association chairperson for ward 8 said:
“The was no need for the police officer to discharge a gun on defenceless residents. If the officers had been professional in handling the matter, it would not have led to this.
“Police are struggling to arrest armed robbers in the city, but they come to discharge guns on defenceless people. Police should protect the public and not be enemies of the people.”
Moyo said she had reported the attempts to bribe the family to Commissioner Patton Mbangwa, the officer commanding Bulawayo province.
“We want to see action and we will not rest until justice is served,” she vowed.
We have reached out to police for a comment. Bulawayo provincial police spokesman Inspector Abednico Ncube’s mobile phone rang unanswered, and his office said he was not at work.