A GROUP of about 15 villagers from Gwanda allegedly kidnapped and tortured seven men for four days after accusing them of stealing their livestock.
The Chronicle news crew caught up with two of the injured men, Mr Emmanuel Mguni and Mr Thembinkosi Ndlovu who are admitted at Gwanda Provincial Hospital. The other five victims have been discharged.
Mr Mguni who could not stand because of severe burns underneath his feet, said he was tortured for four days. He said his assailants would heat stones, place them in a bucket and force him to stand on them while ordering him to reveal the location of their missing livestock.
He said they also tied him to a tree and whipped him. They also submerged his head in a bucket full of water and filled his ears with river sand.
Mr Mguni said he tried to explain to his kidnappers that he had not stolen their cattle but they would not entertain his explanation.
“They kidnapped me on the night of Sunday, 14 November and they took me to a bushy area in Manama. They were about 15 of them who comprised men and women. They asked where their cattle were and I told them I didn’t know what they were talking about.
They said my friend Jose confessed to have given me stolen cattle for safekeeping. I tried to explain that I was innocent but they would not listen,” he said.
“For four days I was subjected to severe torture. They tied me to a tree several times and whipped me. They put stones on a fire and forced me to stand on hot stones. They also submerged my head in a bucket full of water several times, poured river sand in my ears which has affected my hearing. They kept changing places where they were keeping us hostage.”
Mr Thembinkosi Ndlovu from Tshanyaugwe area said he was kidnapped and tortured by the same group for a day.
He said he found others who had been detained for three days.
Mr Ndlovu said while he was at his home on Wednesday, he heard dogs barking in the middle of the night. He said a group of people broke into his house and took him away.
“They took me to a group of people that had already been detained and they tortured me while asking about the whereabouts of the cattle that I didn’t know about. They burnt my feet, whipped me and poured river sand in my ears.
As I speak, I’m in excruciating pain and I can’t walk because of the burns underneath my feet,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said they were freed the following day after police arrived at the scene and their assailants fled.
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Loveness Mangena said police received a tip off on the suspects who were holding people hostage.
She said investigations were underway and appealed to members of the public with information on the identity of the suspects to contact the police. Insp Mangena raised concern over cases of mob justice with some cases being fatal.
“As police we are concerned by the increasing cases of mob justice where members of the public choose to deal with suspects. Some of these cases end up in fatalities. We urge members of the public to surrender suspects to the police instead of taking the law into their own hands,” she said.
Insp Mangena said they had launched an operation targeting stock thieves.
The operation has curtailed cases of stock theft being recorded in Tshanyaugwe and surrounding areas in Gwanda which have become a breeding ground for cattle rustling syndicates in Matabeleland South province.