The assault by Proud — which took place at the Under-17 national soccer team player’s home in Bulawayo’s Sizinda suburb last Friday sent a news crew currying for cover. Besides assaulting his former girlfriend and her mother, Proud is alleged to have also stoned the family house thereby breaking windows and roofing asbestos sheets when he went berserk recently.
When the news crew went back to his house yesterday, Zereni organised a gang and threatened to beat up the journalists again. The news crew was investigating allegations that Zireni had assaulted Miss Tracy Ngwenya, an ex-girlfriend and her mother, Mrs Sibongile Ngwenya, before vandalising property at their home.
Yesterday, Delta Ndou, the Sunday News journalist narrated her ordeal in the hands of the emerging soccer star.Ndou said she had approached Zireni on Friday last week to get his side of the story on the allegations levelled against him but he refused to comment.
“Zireni declined to give me a comment and out of respect for his feelings, I did not force him. Instead, I approached his mother who consented to be interviewed because she said she was fed up with her son’s nefarious behaviour and was at a loss as to what to do,’’ said Ndou.
While the interview was going on, Zireni sneaked into a neighbour’s yard to spy on the news crew before approaching the Sunday News driver, Mr Onias Mubure, to demand an explanation as to why they were at his home.
Zireni then charged into the yard after threatening photographer Resta Nyamwanza.Ndou said during the interview, Zireni showed up fuming and frothing at the mouth, brushing aside his mother’s attempts to pacify and calm him down.
“When he showed up there was pandemonium, his mother was visibly shaken, his siblings ran for cover and a stench of fear filled the air. One of his sisters, who was carrying dishes dropped them in terror. I suddenly realised what a violent, foul-tempered youth he was when he started yelling at his mother, hurling insults, shouting obscenities and threatening to beat up everyone especially me.’’ she said
Upon hearing the noise that was emanating from the yard, the photographer rushed to the scene to investigate the disturbance. However, she did not get far as an incensed Zireni suddenly appeared hot on the heels of Ndou who was running for dear life.
Ndou said she had no option but to flee as the marauding Zireni suddenly went berserk assaulting her.She said had it not been for the quick reflexes of the driver who immediately sped away, the pair would have been on the receiving end of a thorough beating.However, this did not deter the reporter as she went back the next day as Zireni’s mother had indicated that she wished to tell her side of the story.
“I went back to complete the interview in the company of a male reporter as I did not want to be harmed. However, Zireni’s mother was not available and the player had spotted the news crew and beat a hasty retreat only to return with a mob of boys who barred the gate and surrounded the vehicle.’’
Sunday News reporter, Dumisani Nsingo, who had accompanied Ndou — ostensibly to provide security — immediately smelt trouble when he heard Zireni making threats to the effect that “lingayekela ukusuka lapha kathesi ngizaliyenzela amanga, alingazi’’.
Part of the mob armed itself with stones, forcing Nsingo to try and outwit the gang by claiming to be a policeman in order for the news crew to make a successful getaway and head straight to the nearest police station in Tshabalala to make a report.
Nsingo said such lack of respect for the media smacks of ignorance and lack of appreciation of the role the Press plays in society.“Journalists have a right to do their job without fear of victimisation. The fact that a member of the journalistic fraternity, a female one at that, was assaulted for merely doing her job, shows how hazardous this profession is. I have been on the receiving end of beatings myself and almost got another from that boy because he was hell bent on beating us. If he had assaulted us there was nothing I could have done to stop him because he is strong and athletic so I had to use my brains,’’ said Nsingo.