Residents from the dormitory town of Redcliff who did not have relevant travelling documents were on Tuesday forced to fetch firewood for soldiers at 1 Air Defence (Pondoroza) as punishment for not possessing exemption letters to get into Kwekwe CBD, Zwnews has gathered.

In an interview, a resident from Rutendo suburb told this publication that soldiers who were manning a roadblock just after the flyover close to Redcliff turnoff forcemarched them into a bushy area, which is a military cantonment zone, where they were reportedly forced to gather firewood for the soldiers.

“This is the kind of brutality which is not expected to happen in an independent, 21st century Zimbabwe,” one of the affected residents told Zwnews in an interview.

“We were actually aboard a ZUPCO bus when we were dropped at a roadblock just after Redcliff turnoff and were barred from getting into the CBD.

But, instead of just leaving us, they commandeered us into fetching firewood as punishment for not having exemption letters,” he said.

“We were about eleven, including women. The soldiers forcemarched us into the military cantonment area where we were given warnings and told to stay indoors before gathering firewood for them,” said another resident.

When contacted for comment Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwizi reffered Zwnews to Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore, spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Army.

“You can get in touch with Lt Col Makotore; he is the one who can comment on that matter,” Col Mugwisi said.

But Col Makotore said the police were the ones who could comment on the issue.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the matter was yet to be brought to his attention.

“I am yet to get that one; get in touch with Inspector (Joel) Goko (provincial police spokesperson for the Midlands),” Ass Comm Nyathi said.

During the time of publishing, efforts to get a comment from Inspector Goko were fruitless as his mobile was continuously unreachable.