On Saturday 30 April 2022, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) received a report of Council rangers allegedly shooting a young man at St Peters Village in peri-urban Bulawayo ward 17 on the morning of the same day (Saturday) over a beer change dispute.
The report said that the matter began on Friday evening when the youths argued with a lady shopkeeper at the local shops, over beer change and the matter was resolved through the intervention of some community members. The next day (Saturday) the lady is alleged to have solicited the assistance of a neighborhood watch member who inturn called the Council Rangers who first arrested and handcuffed 2 youths (and later released them) and thereafter went on fit of rampage shooting indiscriminately in a nearby homestead. They are alleged to have first attacked the young men with baton sticks and then indiscriminately fired shots in a yard with about 5 children. The rangers (who are said to have numbered about 13) then left in the council vehicle, after realizing that they have shot one the boys. The report says the person who was shot was taken by a council ambulance but did not get treatment because he was not given a police report.
MIHR conducted a two days investigation on the matter and interviewed 14 community members including the young people who were initially arrested, the shot youngman and his family, the family where shooting happened in their yard, community leaders and community members. The investigation results collaborated with the initial report received.
Villagers who spoke to MIHR on condition of anonymity said the rangers’ behavior was inexcusable and questioned since when has Council rangers had the power to intervene on civilian matters which have nothing to to do with Council property or business. “Instead of shooting sand and firewood poachers who are causing environmental and infrastructural damage, they rush here to shoot innocent people” complained one female resident to MIHR.
As of Monday 02 May 2022 by midday, the young man who was shot had still not received medical attention. The family where shooting happened in their yard is still traumatized and in need of counseling, especially the 90 years and 66 years old ladies who also have prevailing medical conditions.
MIHR has offered the affected free human rights and legal advice in order to ensure that justice is served.
The organization has previously received numerous cases of police brutality from the Hyde Park residents and some of the incidences have been brought to the attention of the Pumula ZRP officials.
MIHR is running a virtual Community Human Rights Information Centre in Hyde Park which provides villagers with free critical human rights information and advice.