BY MOSES MATENGA
GOVERNMENT has conceded that the country is now overwhelmed by cases of armed robberies as criminal syndicates smuggle firearms via the country’s porous borders.
Home Affairs deputy minister Ruth Mavhunga-Maboyi made the disclosure in the National Assembly on Wednesday after MPs expressed concern over the surge in armed robberies across the country.
MPs accused government and the police of failing to curb crime in the country.
Mavhunga-Maboyi said citizens were now living in fear due to the increased cases of crime.
“Indeed there is an increase in armed robberies and as police; we are also disturbed by this issue,” Mavhunga-Maboyi said.
“There are a lot of guns and it looks like guns are coming in through various places. Our borders are just too big that the police or the army may not be able to close in tightly,” she said.
Mavhunga-Maboyi said police was hoping to get a new fleet of vehicles soon to be able to track the armed robbers causing havoc in different parts of the country.
“The other thing is, yes, the police say they do not have transport, but some police stations have vehicles, but they are very few. So we are looking at that, indeed we are not happy with that. We are living in fear, but we will try.”
Silobela MP Manoki Mpofu (Zanu PF) asked her to further explain what government was doing to protect people, especially at fuel stations where he said armed robberies were prevalent.
“When people report to the police, they are told that there are no vehicles to follow up the criminals. Those robberies are taking place almost everyday. So what are the police doing? I hear the minister saying they are trying, but those robberies are taking place right now. We need to know what strategies are in place.”
The deputy minister could not immediately outline government strategy to deal with the armed robberies, saying it was a security issue which could not be publicly disclosed.
“I hear what you are saying, but that is a security issue. So, I cannot reveal what exactly we intend to do. How many police officers are going to be deployed, will they be in civilian clothes or not, and how they will be armed.
“Like I said, we are looking at that, and we are in control of the situation because all of us are worried about the situation, including the police themselves. I am sure you heard that a policeman was injured in a shootout. All those things are very worrisome, but I cannot reveal the strategy here because it is a security matter,” she said.
In April, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe told Senate that some of the armed robberies were being perpetrated by former police officers and soldiers.
Kazembe said lack of transport was hindering the police from effectively nabbing the armed gangsters.
“It is, indeed, true that most of these cases of armed robberies are being done by armed men and women from the police force as well as the army. I would like to emphasise and indicate that government is, indeed, working on that.
“Some who resist arrest are being shot. We have two or three cases like that, the recent case, that of eight, a group we arrested recently. We have many groups that are involved, but I am happy that police are doing all they can to fix this issue,” Kazembe said then.