Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Phillip Valerio Sibanda said their troops had clear instructions not to open fire against the rioters.

“Firstly, as soldiers, we operate on orders and the orders given on that day were very clear – you don’t open fire on the rioters,” he said.

“If there is anyone with evidence to the effect that anyone of these (killed) six and the injured could have been shot by soldiers, they can bring that forward. I am aware that there were reporters who were following the troops when they were deployed in town. Certainly from where I sit, I do not believe that any of the soldiers fired. Yes, they fired in the air but I do not believe any could have aimed shots at the civilians.

“We would have been very foolish as the Defence Forces to give orders to the troops to open fire on the civilians with all these people (election observers and foreign journalists) in the country. We would have been out of our minds to give such an order.”
“The troops were given orders to advance and not to take kneeling positions. Whilst that fellow was opening fire, he must have been warning the rioters because if he had aimed at them, we could have more deaths in that area,”