By Nqobile Tshili
A man who was possibly being intimate with his girlfriend in a “suspiciously” parked car, was on Saturday night shot dead during a high-speed chase after failing to comply with orders to stop his vehicle.
Paul Munakopa (35) from Matsheumhlope in Bulawayo, who was in 2014 acquitted for fraud, died yesterday morning at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where he had been rushed for treatment.
He died about five hours after he was shot by police.
Prior to the shooting Munakopa, who was driving a Honda Fit vehicle, was allegedly parked in a secluded place with his girlfriend in Malindela suburb, before being approached by a police patrol that included the community’s neighbourhood watch committee.
Instead of complying with police orders to stop, Munakopa allegedly sped off, leading to a high-speed chase that resulted in the fatal shooting.
Police could not immediately reveal the time and distance that was covered during the high-speed chase.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday described the incident as unfortunate, saying they will release a comprehensive statement on the matter soon.
He said Munakopa’s Honda Fit was suspiciously parked in one of the suburbs, prompting reaction from police and the neighbourhood watch team on patrol.
“Remember we have a community policing programme in Hillside where members of the public have partnered the police. So, it is this team which comprises police and members of the community who were on patrol. In the process they came across a suspiciously parked Honda Fit in a certain road and the occupants were ordered to stop,” he said.
“But the driver drove away resulting in a high-speed chase and in the process the driver later stopped, turned and hit (crashed against) the police car. A big chase ensued which later resulted in a shoot-out and the driver later died at the hospital.”
Asst Comm Nyathi urged members of the public to comply with police orders when approached.
He said the police also discovered that the couple was naked.
“We will release a comprehensive statement later on but we want to urge members of the public that if they commit criminal offences, they should stop and allow due process of the law to be followed. Particularly during this Covid-19 situation. We later discovered that the couple was naked in the Honda Fit and we are now investigating the matter,” he said.
A Chronicle news crew visited Munakopa’s family who expressed deep sadness following the death of their relative.
The family said regardless of who shot their son, they want justice as no-one should be killed without being accounted for.
Munakopa’s mother, Mrs Erica Munakopa, said she was at a loss of words following the death of her son.
“I’m devastated, I don’t even know what to say. I was called by Paul’s girlfriend between 10PM and 11PM saying they have gotten into trouble. She said Paul had been shot. I asked by who and she said by the police. Why, she said she didn’t know. We rushed to where she said they were but when we got there in Hillside suburb they were no longer there.
“We learnt that he had been rushed to United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH). When I got there my son was in excruciating pain. He was shot on the shoulder and on the right arm. He was seriously bleeding and the bullet went through his arm, the arm was almost broken. He died at 4AM,” said Mrs Munakopa.
She said they suspect he died due to excessive bleeding.
Mrs Munakopa said while they do not know the exact circumstances leading to the shooting, she believes police were not justified in shooting him.
“What Tracy told us is that while they were parked outside a home in Malindela suburb they saw a Prado with two white men and got worried and Paul started driving away. She said they did not suspect the car had some police officers in it as they had never seen police driving a Prado nor white police officers.
“She said the vehicle started chasing after them until he came to a stop. Then with no warning, police started shooting at the vehicle and Paul was shot. The car had seven bullet holes,” she said.
Mrs Munakopa said the Zimbabwe Republic Police should account for his son’s killer.
She said some police officers visited her at home and admitted that Paul should not have been killed and told them that they will engage the family later.
“This is murder, we want the police to arrest whoever shot my son. We went to Hillside Police Station and we found the officer who shot him at the police station. He didn’t show any remorse over his deeds. My son has left behind a two-year-old daughter who needs his support,” she said.
Mrs Munakopa said Mufudzi was severely traumatised by the incident and had to be hospitalised at UBH.
In February 2014, Paul, his brother Tafadzwa together with their mother, were acquitted of defrauding nine people of more than $5 000 on separate incidents in a deal to deliver stockfeed. The Chronicle