Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
A MAJOR police operation in Bulawayo’s Pumula suburb targeting shebeens and drug peddlers has resulted in the arrest of one murder suspect and 80 others for various offences.
The crackdown follows the killing of two people in the suburb on Monday.
Phillip Chapula (72) was killed on his way to work within a 300 metre radius where a teenager Mthokozisi Phakathi (19) had been stabbed to death hours earlier.
Phakathi’s friend Blessed Zulu (18) is battling for life at Mpilo Central Hospital after the pair was allegedly stabbed by Thabelo Ndlovu (19) who accused them of stealing his cellphone. Chapula was allegedly killed during a suspected robbery.
The double murder and attempted murder incidents saw cops reacting swiftly to restore normalcy in the suburb.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Chief Inspector Precious Simango yesterday said a suspect was arrested on Monday in connection with Chapula’s murder.
“We have since arrested a suspect in connection with the murder of a 72 year-old man. The suspect is assisting us with our investigations. We are still following leads over the murder of the teenager and attempted murder of the 19 and 18-year-old boys respectively,” said Chief Insp Simango.
The police spokesperson said the Officer Commanding Bulawayo Metropolitan Province Commissioner Bernard Dumbura and his team which includes the Officer Commanding Nkulumane District Chief Superintendent Marshal Dube were worried about heinous crimes that were recorded in the city over the past few days.
Four people died in Bulawayo following stabbing incidents within the last two weeks.
Chief Insp Simango said as a result police have launched an operation targeting drug peddlers, those running shebeens as well as those found drinking in public and those found in possession of dangerous weapons in the suburb.
“The ongoing operation has resulted in the arrest of 80 suspects. We conducted stop and search operation where we arrested some people who were found in possession of dangerous weapons which we recently prohibited. We arrested drug peddlers mostly found in possession of mbanje and one of the suspects was found with 40 twists of mbanje. We also raided shebeens in the suburb and confiscated alcohol in the process,” she said.
“We believe shebeens are perfect hiding places for some of the criminals that commit some of these crimes and can even sell alcohol to teenagers who after being intoxicated commit unthinkable crimes.”
Chief Insp Simango said police officers will remain on the ground weeding out criminals until there is sanity in the suburb.
She said community members should never be threatened to move around in their suburbs due to criminal elements.
Chief Insp Simango said police have intensified community campaigns discouraging residents from abusing drugs and alcohol.