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Police, MDC youths in violent clashes over Sikhala

by Staff reporter
02 Mar 2020 at 09:41hrs | Views
HEAVILY-armed police yesterday fought running battles with MDC youths, following a raid on the Chitungwiza residence of the main opposition party's national vice chairperson Job "Wiwa" Sikhala.

This comes a week after the combative Zengeza West MP legislator said that he was being trailed by suspected security agents, following his recent acquittal on treason charges.

Police made several arrests during and after yesterday's orgy of violence, which saw many passers-by and local residents getting caught up in the crossfire — with law enforcement agents firing volleys of teargas at the MDC youths.

Sikhala later told the Daily News On Sunday that armed police had stormed his home early yesterday, demanding that he accompany them to St Marys Police Station, to meet the officer-in-charge there.
When they got to the police station, Sikhala claimed, the officer-in-charge was surprisingly not there.

"When my home was raided by heavily armed police officers, the people were not amused. They converged at my home in protest at my harassment by the police.

"This prompted the police to fire teargas indiscriminately and the youth reacted," he said.

While covering the story, the Daily News crew witnessed more than four hours of ugly clashes in the area — amid further chaos near Huruyadzo Shopping Centre, which is also in St Mary's.

Many residents who were going about their everyday business were caught by surprise by the chaos, while others who were waiting for transport to Harare were left stranded as police fired teargas at everyone indiscriminately.

The determined MDC youths gathered an assortment of weapons, including stones, and fought back against the police tenaciously.

Some shops at Huruyadzo and Zengeza 2 closed as police ran amok, beating all and sundry, and firing teargas — disrupting both traffic and business.

"It's pure harassment and it's unacceptable. It's the height of desperation for a regime which is coming to the end of its reign.
"We are going to raise this matter with the relevant authorities and the international community.
"They arrested my relatives and up to now they have not been charged. The residents reacted after they were beaten by police who tear-gassed them," Sikhala said further.

On their part, police blamed the MDC youths for the violence, which saw them arresting at least 11 people.
"The Zimbabwe Republic Police condemns acts of violence by unruly youths who were mobilised to engage in acts of disturbance in Chigovanyika area in St Mary's, Huruyadzo … and Zengeza 2 shops in Chitungwiza this morning (yesterday).

"The MDC youths were burning tyres and interfering with the smooth flow of traffic in the suburbs.
"The youths went on to shatter a Zupco bus windscreen, while some passengers were attacked — with some losing their cellphones," police said.

"Police moved in and restored order in the area. Eleven suspects have since been arrested and are in custody.
"The ZRP warns members of the public against any acts of violence, intimidation or harassment of innocent individuals, groups and businesspersons.

"Members of the public are therefore urged to follow the due process of the law in undertaking various activities," police said further.

"Police will not hesitate to effect arrests on anyone who disregards the laws of the country," they added.
But the MDC blamed the government for treating it like "a terrorist organisation".

"The MDC regards the siege in St Mary's, and the incessant harassment of party leaders as needless persecution.
"It is the people who are truly sovereign and terror tactics will not work. State-sanctioned violence will not stop an idea whose time has come," MDC spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said.
Yesterday's violence came after Sikhala said recently that he no longer had "a private life" due to his being trailed

"24/7" by suspected security agents.
"In short, what I am saying is that there is no private life for me anymore. No more luxury of meeting with friends at places of leisure.

"It is very risky to be seen in my company at the moment. So, my friends should not think I am ignoring them.
"I am rather saving them from harassment because of their association with me," Sikhala told the Daily News On Sunday last week.

"Allow me to finish the fight against them (the government and its apparatus) without them (friends) becoming collateral damage.

"Stalking, trailing me and the use of State security agents wherever I am has intensified.
"But let me warn them that if anything happens to me, Masvingo should have been a clear warning to them, Zimbabwe will be reduced to ruins," Sikhala added.

"The whole country will need reconstruction for years because I know what is in the minds of the people.
"Any attempt to terminate my life will result in unprecedented instability that will result in serious bloodbath and that will be the end of this evil regime.

"You will never hear about them again. That will be their end. And this I know for a fact. Let them continue doing their funnies and see the end result," Sikhala further told the Daily News On Sunday.

The fearless Zengeza West legislator was arrested in October last year on charges of subverting a constitutionally-elected government — after he told an MDC rally in Bikita East that he would work to overthrow Mnangagwa's administration before the next elections that are due in 2023.

On February 3 this year, he filed an application for an exception to the charges, arguing that the utterances that he had made at the political rally at Mandadzaka Business Centre did not constitute a crime.
Three weeks ago, Judge Garainesu Mawadze agreed with him and acquitted Sikhala after he upheld the burly politician's application.

Source - dailynews