‘Machete gangs’ days numbered’
POLICE Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga has vowed to crush machete-wielding gangs which have become a menace in Zimbabwe’s mining areas.
Matanga made the remarks at the weekend at Morris Depot in the capital during an event held to welcome 30 police officers who had just returned from a tour of duty in conflict-torn South Sudan as part of the United Nations peace keeping mission.
Matanga said, going forward, the law enforcement agency would devote more resources in the fight against the machete-wielding illegal miners.
“As an organisation we remain mindful of the emerging crop of violent machete-wielding illegal gold miners. We have noted with increasing concern terror attacks on innocent citizens and even on some police officers. Some of you might be aware of the sad passing away of Constable Wonder Hokoyo at Good Hope Mine, Brompton in Kadoma at the hands of these criminals.
“Such unfortunate incidents remind us all that we must do more to protect members of the public as well as our own officers during the discharge of their duties. We have since declared war on these callous criminals and we shall continue to devote more resources in leveraging our fight,” Matanga said.
The police commissioner-general, whose force has to date arrested over 2 300 suspected illegal artisanal miners and machete-wielding robbers countrywide, added that Zimbabwe’s social and economic fabric will crumble if the lawlessness typified by the machete gangs is allowed to continue unabated.
Matanga said the situation in South Sudan should stand as a reminder of what a nation becomes in the absence of peace.
“You have seen it firsthand that armed conflict destroys people’s lives, social structures, a nation’s infrastructure and above all, results in catastrophic economic meltdown.
“The horrors of war and its ripple effects teach us all the value of peace which many a time is taken for granted. It is this realisation that continues to prod us as an organisation to relentlessly encourage all Zimbabweans to cherish peace, unity and love,” said the police commissioner-general.
Gladis Maketo, who led the 30 officers in South Sudan, said the war-torn African country has taken a huge battering due to gun violence.
“In South Sudan, guns are not regulated by the government and as a result, the country is battling high crime rate. Anyone there can have a gun.
“We learnt that for any country to develop faster there must be proper security structures in place and the government should be the sole regulator of the guns,” she said.
However, criminal cases involving the use of the guns are on the increase in Zimbabwe. This past week on Wednesday afternoon, armed robbers descended on the bustling Makoni Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza where they pounced on illegal foreign currency dealers before driving off in a white unregistered Toyota vehicle and a Toyota Allion belonging to one of the foreign currency dealers.