A young man known as ‘Cyborg,’ was shot dead by Members of the Police from the Field Force Unity dispatched to disperse angry crowds protesting around Mto-wa-Mbu hamlet, adjacent to Lake Manyara National Park.
‘Cyborg,’ whose real name is believed to be Hassan Said, was a 25-year-old resident of the Mto-wa-Mbu area.
One person lost his life, three fishermen feared lost, while seven other residents were seriously injured in the deadly skirmish between fishermen, the Police and rangers from the Lake Manyara National Park.
Update: Another person reportedly passed away while undergoing treatment at Hospital. The death toll is thus 2 and both have already been buried
The Commissioner of Conservation William Mwakilema said the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) was investigating claims that there were some fishermen that had drowned in the lake during their scuffle against park rangers.
“The basis of the bedlam which ensued erupted in Mto wa Mbu was when local fishermen accompanied by other residents in the area marched in protest demanding that their colleagues were missing and possibly could have been drowned in the lake,” CC Mwakilema stated.
On his part the Arusha Regional Police Commander, Justine Masejo confirmed that one person identified as Hassan Said aged 25 years and who was famously known as ‘Cyborg,’ was killed in the resulting chaos when the police tried to disperse the protestors in Mto-wa-Mbu.
“Seven other people were injured and are currently receiving treatment at the hospital where they were admitted,” said the assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Masejo, adding that 12 suspects have been arrested pending further investigations.
Dr Melisa Saeli the in-charge at Kirurumo Health center said he received seven injured persons with serious injuries on their heads, stomachs, legs and shoulders.
Five of the victims have so far been referred to the Mount Meru Regional Hospital in Arusha.
All of the seven victims, according to the hospital report, could have been wounded during chaos that reduced the entire Mto-wa-Mbu Township into a temporary battlefield.
The incident is said to have resulted from the long-reigned territorial conflicts between residents of Jangwani Village mapped within Monduli District and the management of the National Park, regarding the boundaries of Lake Manyara.
The Monduli District Commissioner Joshua Nassari, admitted that one villager was shot dead by the rangers and he assisted to rush others to hospital in his car.
The Mto wa Mbu Ward Councillor Hussein Munga, said the border conflicts between local residents and park management are common and that of late the matter was being addressed by the office of the district commissioner.
“During the last two meetings, the villagers demanded to be shown the actual borders of the park in the lake as it is not easy to tell the aquatic boundaries when fishing parties are undertaking their daily duties,” said the Ward Representative.
In the first two weeks of May 2023, experts from the District Council went round to draw the boundaries between the Park and the Village but it seems the residents were not satisfied with the new markings.
However, Commissioner Mwakilema said the villagers either destroyed or took away the border markings.
The fishermen claim the boundary marks are only visible when the water levels drop but at the moment Lake Manyara is full to overflow..
The Regional Police Commander Masejo says so far official reports indicate that the chaos erupted in the Lake when the park rangers who were patrolling the waters arrested three local fishermen.
The villagers had allegedly trespassed into Lake Manyara National Park precinct and were busy harvesting fish in the reserve’s jurisdiction.
Trying to save their mates, other fishermen reportedly joined into the fray and turmoil ensued.
Though they succeeded to snatch their colleagues from rangers’ hands taking them away, the fishermen would later return in anger claiming some other boatmen were missing and could have possibly been taken away by park rangers.
The Regional Police Commander also claimed that the irate protestors marched to the Jangwani Village Office and ransacked it before smashing doors and windows then pulled down the National Flag before destroying it.
Police reports say some vehicles that were driving through Mto-wa-Mbu also suffered damage during the conflict.