BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE/ NIZBERT MOYO
HUMAN rights activists have alleged that gun smuggling from neighbouring South Africa, poverty and high unemployment levels have led to the surge in armed robberies in the country.
This comes at a time when the Zimbabwe Republic Police in their recent statements expressed concern over the rise in armed robberies on banks and houses throughout the country. The most recent armed robberies and bank heists happened in Bulawayo.
Recently, police in Gweru arrested 17 suspected armed robbers belonging to three gangs linked to a spate of robberies committed in and around the city between October and December last year.
Human rights activist Effie Ncube said: “The rise in armed robbery cases in the country can be blamed on a rise in unemployment, where people can no longer generate income using legitimate means. There has also been an increase in the importation (smuggling) of guns from South Africa, which are used to commit crimes.”
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa concurred, saying: “Yes, some may hide under poverty, but our society has become so broken that people do not care about each other and do not respect the rights of others, but only care about their own personal gains.”
Last month, police arrested six armed robbers who allegedly masqueraded as police officers before robbing a Chitungwiza family.
In March, more than 1 400 alleged criminals were arrested in a joint operation between South African police and their Zimbabwean counterparts in the Beitbridge Border Post area.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo police have banned the carrying of dangerous weapons for three months effective from Monday this week
Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube confirmed the prohibition order.
“In terms of section 4(1) of the Public Order And Security Act, police, being the regulating authorities for Bulawayo province, believe on reasonable grounds that the carrying (whether openly or by concealment in a public place or public thoroughfare) or public display of any of the following weapons: a) catapults, machetes, axes, knobkerries, sword, knives, spears or daggers. b) Any traditional weapons whatsoever which are likely to occasion public disorder or a breach of peace hereby issue an order prohibiting the carrying of such weapons in Bulawayo province or any part thereof for a period of three months that is from June 7 to September 6,’’ Ncube said.