CHITUNGWIZA town was on Tuesday plunged into turmoil when suspected Zanu PF youths angered by a commuter transport boycott clashed with touts who were also protesting police harassment.
According to NewsDay, the violence escalated in the morning with residents besieging some parts of the town allegedly to resist what they termed ‘random attacks by police’.
Earlier, police had been deployed to the town to deal with the violence between touts-Zanu PF youths.
However, police ended up randomly beating up innocent residents some of whom armed themselves with stones and blocked the road near Huruyadzo shops, threatening to beat up the police.
Police used tear smoke to disperse hordes of touts and Zanu PF youths pelting each other while the town council offices were closed as a security precaution.
“We are now driving around Chitungwiza and stones are littered all over, blocking the roads,” reported NewsDay scribe Moses Matenga, who witnessed the clashes.
Witnesses said the clashes that took place earlier were so nasty that no commuter omnibuses were operating while stranded commuters had to walk longer distances from the main metropolitan area to hike for lifts.
Operators who tried to defy the boycott were pelted by those backing the strike action.
Frightened residents who witnessed the skirmishes claimed some lives were lost, something which could however not be readily verified.
By the late hours of Tuesday, police reinforcements from Harare had been dispatched to the dormitory town in efforts to quell the situation.
Witnesses said there were more than ten truckloads of anti-riot police patrolling the town with police reportedly rounding up some of those alleged to have taken part in the siege.
All hell broke loose when touts in the town Tuesday morning organised a halt of all commuter omnibuses plying the Harare-Chitungwiza route in protest against a recent hike in traffic fines and alleged police corruption.
But the volatile situation was inflamed when overzealous youths allegedly attempted to force the transporters from going ahead with the boycott.
By the end of day, calm had been restored in the town.