The recent match between Dynamos and Highlanders was abandoned due to violence, adding to a series of similar outcomes in previous matches between the two clubs. Just four minutes into the match, DeMbare took the lead through Keith Madera’s goal. Highlanders’ hopes were shattered when Frank Makarati scored a brilliant header.

Referee Allen Bhasvi’s decision to deny Bosso a penalty and a free-kick infuriated the fans who then invaded the pitch. The match was abandoned due to crowd trouble, adding to the history of abandoned Dynamos-Highlanders matches. Police retreated, allowing the hooligans to dominate. Running battles ensued between fans and police, showcasing the chaotic atmosphere.

Some history:

In 2022, Highlanders and Dynamos were fined by the Premier Soccer League (PSL) due to incidents of violence and hooliganism during their league match at Barbourfields Stadium in May of that year. Dynamos FC was found guilty and fined $7,500, while Highlanders FC was fined $5,000. The match was awarded to Highlanders on a 3-0 scoreline. The chaotic scenes, including pitch invasion by both Highlanders and Dynamos fans and protests by players, led to the abandonment of the match.

In 2017, the highly anticipated match between Dynamos and Highlanders, known as the Battle of Zimbabwe, was cut short due to crowd trouble at Barbourfields Stadium. Chaos erupted when Dynamos’ Christian Ntouba scored a goal that was disputed by Highlanders fans, claiming it was offside. The situation escalated as some fans demanded the referee to stop the match. With tensions running high, the game was eventually abandoned after only 41 minutes of play.

In 2010, the Highlanders vs Dynamos match was abandoned due to violence. Dynamos was leading 2-1. Highlanders faced a disciplinary hearing, and the Barbourfields Stadium was indefinitely banned by the Bulawayo City Council until repairs were made to the scaled-down perimeter fence.

Bosso-Dembare Rivalry Goes Beyond The Sport Itself.

Violence between fans of Highlanders and Dynamos reflects underlying tribal and regional divisions in Zimbabwe. Highlanders supporters perceive Dynamos as a “Shona” club and view each defeat as a provocation for conflict. The matches are seen as symbolic battles between the Shona and Ndebele ethnic groups, with Dynamos representing the establishment and Highlanders seen as the opposition.

Tensions during games often lead to violence, reflecting deep divisions in Zimbabwe along ethnic lines. The Gukurahundi by the Robert Mugabe-led government, where thousands were killed, and raids into Mashonaland by Ndebele Kings are cited as sources of these tensions. The 1987 Unity Accord aimed to address the divisions but did not fully reconcile ethnic tensions.

Analysts stress the importance of addressing underlying discontent rather than just the symptoms like fan violence. The National Peace and Reconciliation Bill has faced obstacles in Parliament, and the government’s reluctance to confront its violent past hinders peace-building.

Violence Involving Other Teams

Violence has not been confined to Dynamos and Highlanders matches as it has occurred during games against other teams as well but the bottom line is Dembare and Bosso are involved in most of them. In 2022, at least 15 Bosso supporters were arrested for disorderly conduct during a match against FC Platinum. Fans protested a penalty by throwing objects, invading the pitch, and damaging the stadium. The match was abandoned, and the violence spread to the Central Business District, affecting motorists.

In 2021, Dynamos were fined US$2,000 for their fans’ misconduct following a 0-1 defeat to FC Platinum in the Chibuku Super Cup. Fans confronted the referee and his assistants, who correctly disallowed a goal scored using the hand. Police intervened to protect the officials.