THE family of 16-year-old Tawanda Musvipa, killed in March after an accidental discharge of an anti-aircraft machine by soldiers conducting drills near Inkomo Barracks, has accused the army of failing to honour the promises it made to the family following the incident.
Tawanda was shot on the right side of his chest and left lower back by a 12,7mm anti-aircraft gun which travels at 600 metres per second during assembly at Delamore Secondary School.
The bullet also struck 13-year-old Tinashe Awali on the right arm.
Although the army assisted Tawanda’s family to meet funeral costs, it failed to attend his memorial service on May 7 or provide material assistance as promised.
Tawanda’s relatives told Zimbabwe Independent this week the army only offered firewood, and even then, there was a condition that the family finds its own transport to collect the wood. Military bosses said they did not have fuel to transport it to the family.
The Musvipa family, which lives at a farm, did not take up the offer as firewood was readily available where they stay anyway.
Tawanda’s father Tichaona Musvipa said the army let the family down as it had promised to assist during the memorial service. The military had also promised to secure employment in government for some of Tawanda’s relatives as part of their long-term assistance.
“It’s really confusing what is going on. I am actually coming from One Para (near Inkomo barracks) to ask what steps they have taken towards compensating us for the death of our son which was caused by their carelessness. But all I am told is that government has no money and there is nothing much they can do,” said Musvipa on Wednesday.
“It pains me that on May 7 we held a memorial service for Tawanda which they knew about as it was announced at the end of his funeral. We even reminded them on May 5 and asked for assistance to feed relatives, friends and church colleagues who would be attending the service. They told us they didn’t have money and they could only provide firewood but added that they didn’t have transport to bring it. They said if we had a car with fuel we could collect ourselves. Honestly what kind of insult is that?”
Musvipa said the army officials later said they could only give the family US$50 for the memorial service.
“They left the money at Delamore Secondary School where Tawanda learnt. I only received it on May 13, way after the memorial service,” said the angry father. “Besides, what would I have done with the little amount of money. Tawanda had a bright future ahead of him. He is the one I pinned my hopes on. He is surely worth more than just firewood and US$50,” said Musvipa.
“All the promises they made to us about securing jobs for relatives seem to have just ended in empty words. When I asked them about the way forward, they said government had no money and in any case the matter was now before the Norton magistrates’ court and a soldier was arrested.”
Tinashe’s father Nickson Awali on Wednesday said although he was asked to submit written demands, the army had gone quiet. His son is still struggling with injuries from the shooting.
“The last time I spoke to them about compensation, I told them I wanted a lifelong support for my traumatised son because his injury will affect him for his entire life since he is right handed. Tinashe only started going to school today. We had to persuade him to go because he can’t move his hand which is now stiff. We were told he will need physiotherapy exercises for it to be functional,” Awali said.
Questions sent to ZNA spokesperson Alphios Makotore on Wednesday were not responded to by the time of going to print.
Officials in his office said he was out of office until Monday and insisted he was the only one who could respond to the queries.