Mkhululi Ncube, Chronicle Reporter
ESIGODINI residents say they are under siege from criminals who are now committing daylight robberies.
They want Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe to visit the area and address the issue as they have lost confidence in local police.
A stakeholder’s meeting was set for Saturday to address the crime issue.
Chronicle is yet to get an update of what transpired at the meeting.
Some criminals are alleged to be using unoccupied housing units in Habane Township which are popularly known as “barracks” in the mining area.
The “barracks” are two-roomed houses built by the local council and have no water or ablution facilities but accommodate groups of people who come from all corners of the country in search of gold.
Esigodini Residents Association organising secretary, Mr Muzondiwa Ndlela said the crime situation was now a cause for concern.
He said residents have engaged police, churches, the business community, and miners and expected all of them to attend the stakeholders’ meeting.
“The crime in this area is terrible. We are having people being robbed in daylight. We have taken it upon ourselves to clear land on some of the hot spots so that we destroy criminals’ havens but just yesterday three women were robbed around 2pm. We feel the police are not doing what they are supposed to do in addressing the problem. We have had two meetings with them but despite their promises, nothing is changing.
“We also want police to establish a police post in Habane Township because the police station is located very far from residents. People are angry and should one of these robbers be caught by residents I fear it will be a disaster.
“As an association we want the Home Affairs Minister to visit this area to hear our concerns. Police must patrol our area and take action against the people occupying barracks,” he said.
Mr Ndlela said they are receiving cases of people who are robbed or attacked every day a situation which has instilled fear in the residents.
He said some people are killed in the bush and their bodies taken to the railway line as cover-up so that it appears as if they would have been run over by trains.
Councillor for the area Patson Sibanda said robbers are indiscriminately attacking residents and police should improve their reaction speed when cases are reported.
Clr Sibanda said the gold panners who come from all over the country turn to crime when they cannot get gold.
“Some robbers follow women into their houses while children coming from schools and shops are also attacked.
Some use machetes and two days ago a woman who had gone to fetch firewood went missing and we gather she was found, but in a terrible condition.
“Even in cases where residents apprehend criminals, three hours down the line they will be out and they threaten to deal with us. So the justice system is also letting us down,” said the councillor.
A resident, Mr Thabani Ndlovu, said businesspeople must assist residents by closing their business on time as some criminals are committing crimes and hide in local bars which never close.
He called for raids at the “barracks” so that criminals are flushed out as some weapons used to commit crimes are kept there.
“These boys are operating like the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram and they attack and rob people during the day. People at bus stops are robbed, women in their houses are robbed and even those walking on the streets.
“The ‘barracks’ must be destroyed and we also appeal to the business community to close shops at 8w. We wish the police can use the same energy they had when they enforced Covid-19 regulations to tackle this problem,” he said.
Zanu-PF DCC secretary for administration Cde Crispen Zingwena said the district is under siege from criminals which is creating political instability.
He said police should conduct stop and search operations to weed out criminals and arrest people who move without identity documents.
“If people are no longer able to move around freely during the day that is political instability in our area. Police have the right to conduct searches but we meet people carrying machetes and other dangerous weapons.
“Those people should be arrested for carrying dangerous weapons even if they have not committed a crime and cleared after investigations.
The President launched the free identity documents applications blitz which means there is no reason why people should not apply for these documents. Some do not want to apply for these documents because they know they have criminal records,” he said. – @themkhust