- January 29, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
MINING communities around Zimbabwe are under siege. Marauding gangs of machete wielding thugs are roaming around gold rich districts unleashing violence and brutal murders on a scale never seen before.
They have seemingly become a law unto themselves and have struck fear into communities in the countryside. From Mazowe in Mashonaland Central right through the Great Dyke in the Midlands province into Matabeleland South, gangs of men armed with machetes, axes, guns and other deadly weapons have of late been on a warpath, committing heinous crimes such as armed robbery, murder and attempted murder. Small gold mines, gold buyers and stamp mills are their prime targets. With the body count on the rise, the Zimbabwe Republic Police has come under immense pressure to contain these gangs – commonly known as maShurugwi.
Over the weekend, we reported on the latest incident involving machete gangs. A mine worker was shot dead while several others were injured when about 10 robbers armed with a gun and machetes went on the rampage attacking people in Maphisa, Matobo District. The armed robbers who targeted a mining compound and shops, randomly fired shots. Corgen Moyo (42) who was employed at Antelope Milling Stamp, died on the spot after the armed robbers shot him while forcing their way into his room at the mine compound.
After raiding and shooting Moyo dead, the robbers moved to Falcon Complex, about a kilometre away, where Zanu-PF district offices are also housed and attacked workers at the shops. There, the armed robbers also randomly fired shots and got away with R4 000 and US$80. The victims revealed how the armed robbers randomly fired at people while attacking some with machetes.
“These people arrived just before midnight and it’s not like we had gone to bed. Some of us were still killing time at a fire place. They invaded the compound carrying a gun that we suspect was an AK47. They were also armed with machetes and started shooting at random. Some of us managed to escape as we were outside,” said one of the survivors.
Antelope 12 Milling Stamp manager Mr Taurai Vengesai said everyone at the mine compound was now living in fear following the raid by the robbers. “We are all terrified by this attack on innocent people who were going about their business. How safe are we in mining areas when armed robbers can just pounce on us any time? We have been told that they also raided the Complex where they attacked several people and got away with cash,” said Mr Vengesai.
He said police should swiftly react to reports of armed robberies. Indeed, police need to be on top of the situation to arrest the scourge of machete gangs. It appears they have become emboldened by the apparent incapacitation of the ZRP to deal with machete gangs.
Mining is one of the country’s top foreign currency earners with minerals accounting for the bulk of Zimbabwe’s export receipts. We therefore cannot afford to have lawlessness disrupting activities in mining areas. We feel it is time the ZRP adopted a hardline stance towards machete gangs.
Clearly these criminals have now become a threat to national security and all agencies should be mobilised to deal with them. Our intelligence apparatus should be ahead of these thugs and provide information that will help to stop their nefarious activities. In mining communities, these people are known and their activities are in the public domain.
While locals may fear retribution if they out them, it is the duty of the police to ferret out information about these gangs and hold them to account for their dastardly deeds. Zimbabwe cannot be held to ransom by a bunch of thugs who seek to reap where they did not sow. We posit that the scourge of machete gangs can be eradicated but this requires the collective efforts of mining communities and law enforcement agents. Mines should put in place stringent security measures around their premises while the police should respond promptly to distress calls from the mines. There should be random roadblocks and checkpoints around mining areas with the police on the lookout for people carrying dangerous weapons.
We note that more than 1 800 members of machete-wielding gangs have been arrested in the past month around the country. This is commendable but more should be done. As efforts to turnaround the economy gather momentum and the mantra, “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” gains traction, the country can ill afford to have its image tarnished by machete gangs.
In this vein, we are glad that the Government has prioritised the elimination of violence in mining communities through capacitating the ZRP to clamp down on these gangs. It is also gratifying to note that the fight against machete gangs has the backing of the highest office in the land — that of the President.