The unfortunate happened on Saturday night when a group of seven men set up to patrol streets of Pumula South in Bulawayo assaulted a suspected thief to death after handing him over to police.
The suspected thief, Matchazadek Ndlovu, died at Pumula Police station on Saturday night.
According to The Chronicle, police arrested Donald Sibanda (24), Michael Junior Moyo (23), Mgcinumuzi Moyo (20), Emanuel Nyoni (34), Philani Ndlovu (23), Ndumiso Khumalo (23) and Stanley Siziba (21) in connection with the assault.
They appeared before Western Commonage magistrate Mr Jeconiah Ncube yesterday facing murder charges and were advised to apply for bail at the High court which they did.
They were remanded out of custody to April 23.
Appearing for the state Mr Tapiwa Solani said the accused persons saw the now deceased trying to gain entry at a house in the suburb and apprehended him. They went to Emthunzini where they apprehended Hloniphani Tshuma claiming he was an accomplice to the now deceased. The accused persons allegedly assaulted Tshuma and Ndlovu whom they later surrendered to police in Pumula.
Chairperson of Pumula south residence Mrs Auxilia Nyamujara who spoke to the chronicle news crew regretted the incident saying it was not what the community wanted when a street patrol team was set up to counter a series of break-ins which had traumatised their suburb.
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“What happened is regrettable. We as a community, and in my personal capacity as the residents’ chairperson, do not condone violence of any nature. What happened was just unfortunate. We are just trying to protect our neighbourhood from thieves who are wreaking havoc in the community” said Mrs Nyamujara.
Another resident Mr Kevin Filton Moyo who is also a member of the Police Constabulary Committee said he is saddened by the incident as the idea of the street monitoring team was to see to it that the suburb is safe from thieves.
“we are having a serious challenge with thieves here and it is due to this background that we ended up establishing the street monitoring team which would see to it that there are security checks. Our own children from the suburb make up this team. What happened is not to be celebrated and to us, it is a great mistake. It should not happen to any human being no matter what crime one commits, life is sacred and should be preserved at all times,” he said.
In solidarity with their children, residents donated US$2 per household to pay bail for the accused persons.