MUTARE – Zanu PF politician and bus operator Isau Mupfumi, 62, and 21 others have been arrested in connection with public violence that erupted at Mutare bus ranks on Thursday and Friday.

The arrests include bus crews, touts, rank marshals and some criminal gang members, according to a police statement on Sunday.

Police said the skirmishes stemmed from a raging dispute between Mupfumi and Mukumba bus companies over loading bays and ranks at Harare-Mutare Old Rank in the Mutare Central Business District and Mudzviti Rank.

Police listed Mupfumi, a former Zanu PF legislator, among suspects in the gang violence.

The list includes Jealous Mukorera, 36, Michael Chigaro, 37, Tatenda Chamusingarevi, 22, Cassidy Chabvuta, 33, Clayton Muchineripi, 24, Kudzanai Neshiri, 24, Donemore Dube, 44, Taurai Gumende, 36, Constantine Makombe, 21 and Tawanda Matara, 42.

Also among those arrested were Liberty Simonyi, 28, Rodrick Chiutsi, 32, James Bhekete, 35, Daniel Kaibo, 35, Daniel Edmore Shupai, 25, Noah Mabota, 26, Wayne Mafuta, 21, Blessing Chikukwa, 30, Donald Matakure, 23, Oracio Migayo, 18 and Luckmore Shamhu, 30.

Police Commissioner Paul Nyathi said law enforcement officers were forced to fire warning shots to disperse rival gangs involved in violent clashes that had spiralled out of control, putting innocent bystanders in harm’s way.

“Some of the suspects were hired and paid to engage in public violence using vehicles whilst carrying machetes and other weapons.

“In one of the incidents, police had to fire warning shots to effect arrests as the gangs were fighting and striking one another with machetes, stones, iron bars and other weapons.

“Some members of the public were caught in crossfire and sustained injuries,” said Nyathi.

Police said they recovered several vehicles which include a white Toyota Hiace, a white Toyota Belta, few weapons such as knives, hoe handles, iron bars, and stones used in the violent clashes.

Police said they were on the trail for Mukumba Buses owner Leonard Mukumba, another suspect in the violence.

Nyathi warned bus operators to refrain from violence.