Zimbabwe police and the dreaded Central Intelligence Organization have declared war on each other after a round of fatal shootings over the weekend left at least two high ranking security agents dead and many others wounded.
The agents gunned down each other in the southern part of the country, Bulawayo in two separate incidents in a space of 24 hours sparking a tense stand-off.
CIO and senior bosses at the secret service outfit were demanding explanations after one of the dead CIO members was identified as a bodyguard of Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi.
The tragic incident came amid a heightened state of alert by the police after a senior police officer was killed and a detective and four members of the public wounded early Saturday morning.
On Monday, police boss Augustine Chihuri reiterated the police’s “shoot-to-kill” policy during a funeral service organized for the dead senior police officer, Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chatikobo.
He said he was so angry at the murder that he was praying that the criminals’ lives would be cut short.
“I even appeal to God and my prayer is: ‘Lord, may you shorten the lives of these criminals’,” but people at the service said he directed the message to the CIO.
“Let me warn people who harbour criminals that the long arm of the law will catch up with them,” Chihuri said.
However, citizens say Cheshire’s comments are misplaced as countless innocent civilians have been gunned down by police who later claim that the dead were “victims of mistaken identity”.
One of the witnesses of Saturday’s shooting said: “Mohadi’s bodyguard followed the instruction together with everyone else, but they (police) shot him while he was trying to explain who he was.”
CIO sources say their dead colleague was shot at point-blank range and this has angered the intelligence department who have expressed their dismay with the conduct of the officers who are suspected to be from the homicide section.
“There is a feeling that police should have exercised caution in this case,” said the intelligence source.
However, those inside the CID homicide section argued that while it was regrettable that the shooting had resulted in the death of a member of the security forces, the lives of the officers who shot at the operative were also at risk.