Relatives of assistant referee Thomas Kusosa were yesterday forced to break into the house where he stays in Kwekwe after serious concerns were raised about the match official's whereabouts in the wake of disturbances which led to the abandonment of the 2017 Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final between CAPS United and Shabanie Mine.
Kusosa - who was struck by a missile and sustained a deep cut on the head in the chaos sparked by his decision to rule that an offside infringement had occurred in the build-up to the goal scored by the Green Machine's Kudzi Nyamupfukudza in the 65th minute - stays alone at the house in Kwekwe. The incident led referee Philani Ncube to abandon the explosive contest, with Shabanie Mine leading 1-0 courtesy of a goal scored by defender William Mapfumo just before the break, citing concerns about the safety of match officials in the charged atmosphere.
CAPS United president Farai Jere said as a club they did not condone attacks on match officials, even if the referees were wrong in the execution of their duties, because supporting such acts would plunge the game into a lawless jungle. However, Jere said his team expected Fair Play because they would have invested a lot into trying to ensure they win tournaments. Kusosa is no stranger to controversy after his decision to allow Dynamos' Cameroonian forward Christian Epoupa Ntouba's effort to stand at Barbourfields earlier this year irked Highlanders fans who felt the striker had been in an offside position at the time he drilled the ball home.
Some Bosso fans rained missiles onto the pitch, with some of the objects aimed at Kusosa, and it forced the referee to abandon the high-profile match because of concerns over the safety of match officials on duty that day. Interestingly, before the start of that game, Highlanders officials had tried to force the match commissioner to replace Kusosa from his role as assistant referee that afternoon because they were unhappy with the way he had disallowed two goals which they had scored against Shabanie Mine in a league match at Barbourfields.
Kusosa's controversial call favouring Shabanie Mine has been a major talking point in the game and raises questions as to why the ZIFA Referees Committee decided to appoint him to take charge of a high-profile match featuring the Zvishavane miners. In that ill-fated Battle of Zimbabwe showdown at Barbourfields, Bosso fans asked for the replacement of Kusosa with another assistant referee, for the game to continue, and when their pleas were ignored, they responded by raining more missiles on the pitch.
Not even the intervention of their leaders, who should be commended for the way they tried to bring back sanity on the day, could change matters and the match was abandoned with Dynamos being declared winners on a 3-0 scoreline. After the chaos at Maglas, in which furious CAPS United fans and officials blamed Kusosa for making a diabolical call in ruling out the effort by Nyamupfukudza, the assistant referee's family raised alarm about his safety when they could not get hold of him.
Fears even grew that he had possibly been abducted, for the better part of yesterday. Efforts by Kusosa's family members to locate the assistant referee kept hitting a brick wall, leading to frantic searches for him. They even went to the extent of contacting ZIFA Referees Committee chief Gladmore Muzambi asking for help. Muzambi told The Herald there were fears Kusosa had turned suicidal after having locked himself in the house where he stays in Kwekwe, since arriving from the Zvishavane assignment, and cutting himself off from the outside world.
His desperate family, said Muzambi, had to break into the house where, to their relief, they found him there. "We were failing to locate him since we parted ways in Zvishavane. He left Zvishavane injured and we tried calling to check on him but we were failing to get through," said Muzambi. "His family members also tried in vain to locate him for the better part of the day.
"His family had contacted me inquiring about his whereabouts which were not known and they were frantically looking for him. He had also not reported for work at his workplace and they started to be very worried also. They (his family) later broke into a house where he stays alone in Kwekwe and found him there alone, locked into the room. They told me he was very disturbed. He told his family he was concerned why there was always controversy in his work even when he is always making correct decisions."