Suspected panners axe eight, kill one in Mabutweni
By Bongani Ndlovu
Two men, suspected to be gold panners, ran amok axing eight people and killing one in the streets of Bulawayo’s Mabutweni high density suburb, in a gruesome orgy of violence over US$2.
Shepard Nhliziyo and Kholisani Nyathi indiscriminately hacked at anyone they met on Thursday night.
They were apparently incensed after a woman they had sold cellphones to, failed to pay a US$2 balance.
It was a night of terror reminiscent of horror kingpins Jason and Freddy when they teamed up to terrorise residents of Springwood.
Like the monsters in the 2003 Hollywood gooseflesher, the duo slashed at anyone they met leaving a trail of bloodied residents in their wake.
One of the victims was a woman, returning home from a church service. The oldest victim was 60 years and the youngest was 20.
During the bloody spree, Nyathi chopped down the door at Gogo Josephine Moyo’s, who lives at a house opposite his accomplice Nhliziyo.
The duo lived together with four other accomplices.
Nhliziyo has been arrested while Nyathi and the other four are still on the run.
When a Chronicle news crew visited Mabutweni yesterday, residents were visibly shaken after witnessing the gruesome violence.
Yesterday, councillor for the area Frank Jabangwe was visiting the families of victims and most of them were speechless with shock.
Blood splattered some scenes where the unprovoked attacks occurred.
Probably one of the messiest scenes was at a community borehole, just metres away from the Mabutweni shops and youth centre.
Cllr Jabangwe urged police to act swiftly to catch the assailants.
“I think the challenge that we had was that the police were slow to react when the people who had been attacked reported the matter. They said there were no police officers at the nearby station and those at Pata Pata Bar told them that they weren’t deployed to Mabutweni. At the time the assailants were axing the people. Police could have apprehended them,” said Cllr Jabangwe.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association ward 13 chairperson Mr Methuseli Bhebhe who was with Cllr Jabangwe said they were in shock.
“We are shocked as the residents of this place. We have been moving around since morning visiting the victims in Mabutweni. There were about four households we saw. Two weeks ago we had a meeting with the police and spoke about these problems of crime in the neighbourhood,” said Mr Bhebhe.
Gogo Moyo said:
“I had to lock myself in the house because he (Nyathi) threatened one of my grandchildren saying they wanted to kill them. This is because he thought that she told police of his whereabouts. He actually came into the house and beat her up and said if it wasn’t for my presence, he would have hacked her to death. When he left I locked myself inside, and that was the best decision because he returned armed with an axe and started hacking at the door,” said a visibly shaken Gogo Moyo.
According to police the attacks started at Mabutweni shopping centre.
Acting Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele said eight people were attacked and confirmed that one had died from the injuries.
She urged members of the public not to resort to violence to settle disputes.
Asst Insp Msebele said on Wednesday Nhliziyo sold two cell phones, a white Samsung Trend and a black KGTEL for US$14 to an unidentified woman from Njube, who sells firewood at Mabutweni Shopping Centre.
“Nhliziyo was paid US$11 and the balance of US$3 was supposed to be collected yesterday. However, on Thursday at around 5PM Nhliziyo returned and found the husband of the female vendor at the shops to collect his balance of US$3 and was paid US$1 and he left,” said Asst Insp Msebele.
At around 6PM Nhliziyo returned with four other men, demanding their cell phones back, Asst Insp Msebele said and that is when the violence started.
“The husband told them that the cell phones in question were with his wife who was not around. It is alleged that Nhliziyo then picked an axe which the husband used to chop firewood and threatened to axe him and at the same time Nyathi removed a small axe from his trousers and went on to slap the husband once in the face. He took to his heels with the gang in hot pursuit closely,” said Asst Inspector Msebele.
After failing to catch him, the duo rampaged through the suburb with axes injuring eight.
The eight suffered various injuries on the head and were rushed to Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals for treatment.
Professor Solwayo Ngwenya, acting Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive officer, confirmed one of the victims, who cannot be named as next of kin are yet to be informed, had died.
“We had two people and unfortunately one of them has died. The other person is stable and recovering and undergoing investigations at the hospital.
“We are pained that people are losing their precious lives through senseless acts of axing each other. We would like to urge the public to resolve their problems amicably and not to resort to such extremes of unnecessary action that lead to the loss of life. The community must act together and involve elders,” said Prof Ngwenya. The Chronicle