THE country is witnessing an upsurge in armed robberies and what is more disturbing is that the robbers are shooting to kill. In the past the robbers would rob people of cash and other valuables without harming them but the trend has changed as the robbers are now trigger-happy.
A number of people have been injured while a few have been killed during recent robberies. The upsurge in armed robberies has prompted the Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to direct all provincial police commanders to deploy special units to robbery hotspots.
He has also ordered the police to intensify stop and search patrols and roadblocks. Most cities and towns including Bulawayo and Harare are witnessing an upsurge in armed robberies, a confirmation that guns are in the wrong hands.
Police have arrested many of these notorious armed robbers but what is disturbing is that most of them have been granted bail by the courts and are again terrorising citizens across the country.
The arrest of eight notorious armed robbers who included the country’s most wanted armed robber, Musa Taj Abdul of Barham Green in Bulawayo last year brought relief to citizens but the relief was short-lived as most of them were granted bail. Abdul is believed to be the mastermind behind a spate of armed robberies committed in different parts of the country. Most of the guns used in armed robberies are either stolen from security services or are smuggled from neighbouring South Africa.
It is easy to access guns in SA compared to this country because we have very strict rules controlling the buying and selling of guns. In Zimbabwe an individual cannot just walk into a shop and buy a gun.
When one needs a gun, he or she has to go through a process that includes vetting by the police. The person intending to buy the gun must also justify the need for such a weapon.
The owners of guns are then issued with licences and the police from time to time check on the use of the weapons. We have said it before that criminals live among communities and the onus is on members of the public to rid their communities of these criminals by reporting them to the police.
The police on their part should ensure criminals are weeded out of the force because they make their work difficult by providing information to criminals.
Members of the public should not provide sanctuary to criminals but should instead make it very uncomfortable for them to reside within communities.
It is a fact that most of these robbers spend the day with their families and relatives and turn robbers at night. It is therefore, incumbent upon each and every citizen to assist the police to rid society of these undesirable elements.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe has implored legislators to tighten laws and make it difficult especially for armed robbers to be granted bail. We totally agree with Minister Kazembe because the fight against armed robberies cannot be won if they continue to be granted bail.