The Zimbabwe Republic Police recently woke up to sad news, where two police officers – Sergeants Robert Shumba (39) and Vengai Mazhara (35) all from Chipinge Police station were killed in a shooting incident, which occurred at Plot number 34, Naffaerton, Chipinge as they tried to arrest a suspected poacher.

The shooting incident also claimed the life of a civilian, Chaita Simango (22) while Constable Josphat Madenga who was in the company of the two survived. The trio were on a mission to investigate information on poachers who had wreaked havoc at Nafferton Farm located 15km to the West of Chipinge Town. The farm was repossessed by the Chipinge Urban Council and earmarked for expansion.

It is said that when the farm was taken over by the council, squatters moved in and set up their mushroom settlements of pole, mud and grass thatch. It was in one of these houses that the suspect was thought to be hiding.“When we got close, we noticed there were people in the yard – two men and a woman,” said Cst Madenga.

They later learnt that the trio were Simango, who was the suspect and his wife as well as Blessing Jenya who indicated to the police officers that he had just visited the family. The latter left and they remained with Simango and his wife in the yard. The police officers introduced themselves and informed him that he was under arrest for poaching and they asked him to lead them into his house for a search.

Upon entering the house, they discovered that there was another man inside who suddenly dived under the bed, grabbed a gun and fired in the general direction of the door, drilling holes in the lower limbs of the two police officers and Simango in the process. Cst Madenga somehow managed to escape unhurt and ran for dear life. He alerted the station of what had transpired.

Twenty-one empty 7, 62 x 39mm cartridges were later recovered from the scene when the Criminal Investigations Department and Support Unit troopers finally attended the scene. Eight were recovered inside the hut and 13 had been fired outside it.According to police, it looked as if Simango and Sgt Shumba had crawled outside, just barely alive, and the man had followed them to finish his work. Sgt Shumba is said to have had several gunshot wounds on his legs and head, while Simango’s guts were spilling out.

Police recovered a pair of trousers, suspected to be part of the uniform worn by Parks and Wildlife rangers. Also found were two Zimbabwe National Army camouflage jackets, which were recovered from underneath the bed. Three cell phones were also recovered – a Nokia 1200 and another phone, both of which belonged to the late Simango as well as a ZTE 5551. Meanwhile Simango’s wife is helping the police with investigations.

A funeral service was held for the two police officers just in front of the parade square where they last stood before they met their tragic demise. Scores of people were in attendance at the sombre ceremony that reminded all Chipinge constabulary that this was the second and third time a police officer had lost his life in violent circumstances in the area. Early this year, Cst Graig Tuhwe of Chipinge Rural was killed as he tried to break up a fight at a bar in the town.

The late Sgt Shumba’s young brother, Tawanda – who travelled all the way from South Africa to see off his sibling – was at loss for words.“I still cannot believe it,” he said. “We were always in constant touch and I had spoken to him on Sunday and he was in high spirits. Today he is dead. I cannot believe it.”

Sgt Shumba and Mazhara were laid to rest in their respective home areas of Mberengwa and Bikita respectively.

May their souls rest in eternal peace.

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