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Hwange women demand justice for police shooting

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TWO Hwange residents who were shot by police in August are seeking justice and compensation four months after the life-changing incidents.

NOKUTHABA DLAMINI

Zulani Mudenda (46) and Twaboni Nyoni (26), both from Madumabisa Village 2 suburb, were shot by police officers who were on an operation against illegal coke vendors in the area on 22 August. The two however say they are not involved in the trade.

Nyoni was hit by a stray bullet while sitting at home. Mudenda was however deliberately shot by a police officer as she walked home from work. The officer went on to assault her.

The police officers did not assist the women to get medical attention following the shootings.
Mudenda and Nyoni told The NewsHawks the negligent police officers have not been brought to book.

An emotional Mudenda said she was pained because her assailant deliberately shot her.

“I was walking from work to my house and, when I was just close to getting in, I saw a police officer approaching from the opposite direction. He was close to me and he instructed me to immediately stop where I was. Before I could respond, he shot me with his gun that he was carrying,” Mudenda narrated.

“I was shot on the stomach and I fell down. Since it was just the two of us on the road, I asked him why he shot me and he became cheeky and violent. He kicked me all over my body with his boots, telling me to keep quiet.

“It became more painful when he started to kick me where the bullet wound was and that’s when I grabbed his trousers while lying on the ground, begging him to stop, but he did not.”

Mudenda said the police officer only let her go when a mob closed in.

“I then heard people saying my intestines were protruding and they ran away from me. I was still clinging onto his trousers and I begged him again to save my life until one of his colleagues came through and pretended as if they wanted to take me to hospital, but suddenly they walked away,” Mudenda said.

After the police officers deserted the scene, Mudenda said she spent about three hours before her husband and neighbour sourced transport to take her to hospital, gasping for air.

Upon admission to Hwange Colliery Hospital, staff demanded ZW$36 000 before attending to her.

“They said the money was for them to attend to me and give me five pints of blood transfusion and drips that I urgently needed due to severe blood loss. We did not have that huge amount of money,” she said.

She said medical personnel only attended to her after 2am when her employer (Zambezi Gas) volunteered to pay the money. The company also paid for her ambulance and operation fees at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo, where she was later transferred. Mudenda worked for the company as a general hand.

An affidavit signed after a scan was conducted at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), the report states that Mudenda was shot on the “abdominal wall which resulted to small bowel perforations plus total transections and open pelvic (comminuted) fracture.”

Nyoni said her shooting deprived her seven-month-old son of the opportunity to grow fully on breast milk after the gunshot ravaged her right breast.

At the time, her son was only three months old.

“The incident occurred around 8pm and I was seated by the door in front of my house plucking out feathers of a chicken that I had just slaughtered. I saw some police officers on the road arguing with some people, accusing them of selling coke. I heard a loud gunshot and immediately felt some excruciating pain on my right breast,” Nyoni said.

“I did not understand what had happened until I was told that I had been shot. I was bleeding a lot until I lost consciousness. My child was only three months old but I was forced to wean him and introduce meals to him due to that injury.”

She was taken to St Patrick’s Hospital in Hwange for treatment. Her husband, Chimedza Mathe, has been paying for her treatment since the shooting.

“The particular breast was swollen in a way that I’ve never seen and I had lost hope that she was going to survive,” Mathe told The NewsHawks.

“She lost so much blood and breastfeeding properly became impossible until we decided to introduce solid meals to our son. Her breasts were now pumping out milk and blood through the entrance and exit bullet wounds and it was no longer safe.  

“I was only asked to buy her painkillers and injections for five days, which didn’t help much until we received a phone call from someone telling us that we were supposed to take her to a private hospital in Bulawayo and this is where she was examined, cleaned and stitched.”

Mathe says he wants the police to reimburse him for the medical costs he incurred.

Mudenda has been in and out of hospital since the shooting. Life has been difficult for the two families, with Mudenda and her husband Abel Mwiya saying they now survive on food handouts.

“The wound has not healed properly and I hardly sleep because of pain. We survive on asking for food from our neighbours because my husband is not working as well and we are raising three young infants,” she says.

“Police have never helped me with anything. They only come to take statements here and there and just leave without saying anything. I have made multiple inquiries about this man who shot me and the answer has never been convincing,” she said.

“At first, they told me that they were still trying to identify him and later they said he was in custody pending appearance in court, but what is surprising is that he has not appeared, which makes me think that there is a cover up.

“We have also been told that he was transferred to another station. We really don’t know anything about his whereabouts or what’s going on with the case.”

Mathe said his family was spending all their income towards his wife’s medical bills and have lost hope of getting justice.

 “We have lost most of our valuables trying to raise money for medication. Even though she is recovering, the damage has affected our lives in a way in that most of the money is channelled towards her health yet our income is very low,” Mathe said.

“I recently went to police to appeal for medical bills assistance and they told me to keep a collection of receipts without any further explanation.”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is demanding accountability on the matter.

Represented by the ZLHR’s Prisca Dube, she wrote letters of complaint to the officer-in-charge of Hwange Police Station, demanding that the involved officers be held accountable for their unlawful actions.

In a statement, ZLHR says Nyoni’s alleged shooter has only been identified as a Hove while Mudenda’s assailant remains unidentified.

“Apart from the pain which they endured, the incident left Mudenda and Nyoni severely traumatised and unable to fully cope with life while also fearing for their safety and that of her family,” ZLHR said.

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