HARARE – A hero soldier was being hailed on Thursday after dramatic footage emerged of him stopping a colleague from shooting opposition supporters.
A video obtained by the British news channel ITV shows a soldier wearing a mask taking aim at MDC Alliance supporters who were already scattering following clashes with the police.
The soldier fires several times at the retreating protesters, mainly youths, with a large assault rifle while his colleagues shoot in the air.
Another soldier, who is not armed, is seen racing to the killer soldier and slaps him on the back, forcing him to stop the shooting.
Police on Thursday said six people had been killed and 14 others wounded, as opposition leader Nelson Chamisa demanded to know who gave the order for soldiers to shoot at civilians.
On social media, attention turned to the hero soldier.
Jaames Kuwanda tweeted: “May God richly bless that soldier who stopped the trigger happy ‘not soldier’. This could have been a massacre. I counted at least 18 rounds going off from his gun. God help Zimbabwe.”
“Can we find out the soldier’s name who stopped the other one from shooting? Bless him,” said one Twitter user calling herself RCD.
Ruvimbo Natalie wondered: “What would have happened if that other soldier hadn’t stopped him? Violent murderers.”
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Senegal Trudy Stevenson tweeted: “Bravo to that soldier who stopped the one shooting at people!”
A still photo of the incident had given an impression the soldier who put an end to the shooting was laughing, but the video would suggest he was shouting at his colleague to stop.
Some have speculated that the unarmed soldier who stopped the shooting was the one in command.
— Doug Coltart ✊🏽🇿🇼 (@DougColtart) August 2, 2018
Ian Shooster, supporting President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said if indeed the soldier who intervenes is of a higher rank, it would suggest there was no instruction to kill civilians and the guilty soldier had to face the music.
He tweeted: “Look at this video. If that soldier was ordered to shoot, the one who is in-charge stopped him by hitting on his back. That showed he wasn’t ordered. Blame the killer not ED (Emmerson Dambudzo).”