By Leonard Ncube
A 62 year old woman from Jambezi outside Victoria Falls died on the spot at her homestead when a stray bullet fired by a ranger in an attempt to kill a problem elephant hit her on the head.
Ms Irene Munsaka died on Monday night at her homestead in Chenamisa village, about 13km from Cross Mbizha along the Hwange-Victoria Falls road.
Rangers from Hwange Rural District Council (HRDC)’s Community Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire) had visited the area between Jambezi Centre and Chikandakubi to drive away problem wild animals that have been terrorising villagers.
Elephants, buffaloes, lions and hyenas visit human settlements in search of water and food as human-wildlife conflicts escalate in communities adjacent to game parks because of drought.
With a majority of water sources in areas bordering Hwange National Park in Matetsi area drying up, wild animals visit Chenamisa village to drink water from a spring shared by the community and their livestock.
“She was in her yard around 8PM when she was shot on the head and died on the spot. The rangers shot at an elephant but missed it. A bullet strayed into her homestead and hit her on the head. What we don’t know is why the rangers shot in the direction of the homesteads when the elephants should have been on the side of the fields,” said Chenamisa village head Mr Frazer Munsaka who is also the now deceased’s younger brother.
He said villagers alerted Campfire officers immediately after the incident happened.
Another relative, Mr Emmanuel Tshuma, accused Campfire officers of negligence adding that the family wants compensation.
“This shows that they didn’t take precautionary measures to make sure they don’t harm villagers.People have lost crops and livestock to these wild animals and now we have lost a person because of negligence. Investigations should be done and they have to compensate us,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo confirmed the incident but said the wildlife authority was not directly involved.
“We received such a report but you should know that it’s not our rangers. Zimparks gave powers to Campfire to deal with problem animals in communities and the matter has been reported to the police as investigations continue,” he said.
HRDC chief executive officer Mr Phindile Ncube said the incident was an accident.
“We’re aware of the issue. They didn’t shoot at a person but a bullet strayed,” he said.
Police took Ms Munsaka’s body to Victoria Falls Hospital mortuary yesterday. The Chronicle