Abel Zhakata Senior Crime Reporter
A well-known smuggler of second-hand clothes was last week shot dead by police officers who allegedly mistook him for an armed robber during a midnight ambush at the Cecil Kop Game Park in Mutare.
Jivas Masaya (38) of house number 7789 Natview Park died on the spot after one of the bullets hit him in the head. Manicaland police spokesman Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa could not comment on the case. He said he had not received a report on the matter. However, police sources said the incident happened last Thursday night at around 10pm.
“Police officers who included Assistant Inspector Mapfungautsi, Constables Taonezvi, Makumbe and Mutingwende were on deployment under Operation Usalama Phase 4 at Border Streams in Vumba when they received information that some armed robbers intended to cross into the country from Mozambique via Cecil Kop Game Park.
“They went to the scene and Ass Insp Mapfungautsi, who was the team leader, deployed Constables Makumbe and Mutingwende who were both armed with AK47 rifles loaded with 30 rounds each to go and check the suspected entry point. He remained behind with the other team member manning the other area,” said the source.
Suddenly, said the source, a Toyota Noah (ADG 5383) which was being driven by the deceased was observed coming from the direction of Mutare Boys’ High School along Rekayi Tangwena Avenue. Constables Makumbe and Mutingwende were lying in ambush.
“The police officers saw two suspects coming from the bush carrying suspicious materials and loading them into the deceased’s vehicle. The cops then came out of their hiding place and ordered the suspects to declare what they were loading into the vehicle. At that point, the two suspects who were loading the contraband fled from the scene.
“The now deceased started his vehicle intending to flee as well. Constable Makumbe then fired two warning shots into the air ordering him to stop but he did not follow the order resulting in Constable Makumbe firing three more shots at the vehicle,” said the source.
The vehicle, which was now moving at high speed ,later veered off the road after the driver lost control. The cops went to investigate and observed that Masaya was lying motionless on the driver’s seat.
Investigations carried out by the police after the incident revealed that the rear left tyrel of the car had been deflated while it was also observed that the deceased had gunshot wounds in the head just beside the right ear. There was also an opening on the back of his head which suggested that the bullet that hit him went through and came out on the other side of his head.
His brain was splashed on the passenger seat and on the left door panel. Two spent cartridges were also picked up at the scene. Police also recovered three bales of second-hand clothes from the vehicle Two gunshot holes were discovered on the left side of the vehicle. Masaya’s body was taken to Mutare Provincial Hospital awaiting post-mortem which was supposed to be done in Harare.