The European Union’s top diplomat in Harare has condemned the “heinous” killing of a Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporter at a rally in Kwekwe on Sunday.
Mboneni Ncube, 35, was stabbed with a sharp object in the rib cage area after a group of thugs armed with iron bars, machetes, spears and stones attacked a CCC rally in Midlands.
The CCC said 22 others were treated in hospital for various injuries as police confirmed 16 arrests over the incident.
The European Union’s head of delegation to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen called on Zimbabwe’s government to arrest and prosecute the killers. He also urged authorities to level the political playing field as campaigning hots up ahead of by-elections on March 26.
Olkkonen called the killing “a heinous act of political violence which has to be condemned.”
“Those responsible need to be brought to justice and a level playing field for campaigning must be guaranteed. Sincere condolences for the loss of life and a speedy recovery to victims,” the diplomat wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, police said they had arrested 16 “suspects”.
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said in a statement: “The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms the violent incident which occurred in Kwekwe in which one person died. The ZRP also confirms that 16 suspects have been picked up in connection with the incident.”
The 16 were named as Valentine Mandizvidza, 21, Takunda Chivenyengwa, 21, Isaac Tapfumaneyi, 37, Misheck Mutetwa, 32, Talent Imbayago, 28, Sydney Samanyayi, 29, Perscy Mukwaturi, 38, Blessing Tomu, 18, Fraud Munyuki, 29, Albert Maketo Tembo, 29, Edmore Shoshera alias Masparrow, 30, James Jere, 28, Amon Kwachata, 50, Progress Munyuki, 30, Musa Matingwende, 32, and 44-year-old Shepard Mbewu.
Police said Mukwaturi of Chicago in Gweru, Samanyayi of Mbizo II in Kwekwe and Shoshera also of Mbizo had Zanu PF membership cards in their possession at the time of arrest.
CCC leader Nelson Chamisa was in the middle of his address when the attackers pounced, triggering a near stampede as thousands of people fled. Chamisa was temporarily yanked from the stage by his security, but later retook the podium to finish his speech.
Chamisa later spent time talking to the injured as the party’s secretary for health Dr Henry Madzorera joined medical teams from the Red Cross attending to the injured.
CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said Ncube “was attacked with a spear and murdered in broad daylight… by Zanu PF thugs.”
“His only crime was to believe in a brighter Zimbabwe where all are free,” Mahere said.