Nqobile Tshili/Judge Jarachara, Chronicle Reporters
POLICE in Bulawayo are today expected to hold a crunch meeting with local business to strategise on how to deal with the increase in armed robberies in the city, while residents have called for a shoot-to-kill approach to contain the situation.
Over the past few weeks, the city has been recording a spike in armed robbery cases and a cashier at a liquor store was last week on Saturday shot dead during one of them.
Six days later a gang of armed robbers hit a cash-in transit security company hired by Choppies Supermarket to collect cash that was due for banking.
The robbers got away with seven trunks full of cash.
Following the hit, police said sloppiness by the security company contributed to the raid.
Hence, police today are expected to conduct a no-holds-barred meeting with businesspeople as it is believed that their laxity is aiding the robbers.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said bringing stakeholders under one roof will help cops in dealing with the armed robbery cases.
Insp Ncube said the meeting would be attended by representatives from sectors such as private security, banking, retail including butcheries, mining and industrial sector who are largely the targets of armed robbers.
“We are organising a meeting with the business sector to discuss the rise of armed robbery cases. We have observed that there could be some security gaps from the business sector which play to the advantage of the robbers. Hence, the meeting is aimed at engaging the key players in the business sector and we invite leaders of their associations to a meeting which we are going to hold on Monday July 31,” said Insp Ncube.
Business Against Crime Forum of Zimbabwe secretary general Mr Reggie Sibanda said the business sector welcomes the meeting as it aims to tackle one of the most critical issues at hand.
“We are very happy because the police are also concerned with what is happening. They are also worried about the welfare of our businesses hence this meeting. They want to understand how we trade in terms of securing our money. I think they also want to come up with a strategy of how we can improve on target hardening as well,” said Mr Sibanda.
He said they will be having two separate meetings, one involving security companies and the second one involving other players in the economy.
Residents told a Chronicle news crew that the city is becoming unsafe hence police should take radical measures to deal with armed robbers.
Mrs Marry Dzowa (62) from Matsheumhlope suburb said police should consider shooting armed robbers as this would deter others with similar thoughts.
“I personally do not believe in shooting to kill as it ends up taking the innocent ones. But truly speaking the police are now supposed to be allowed to shoot and kill especially armed robbers and murderers. We are now living in fear wherever we are. These robbers are very young and are robbing using guns so I think he who is holding a gun must fight with someone with a gun,” said Mrs Dzowa.
A resident who declined to be named said it is time courts stop issuing bail to armed robbers.
“While we understand that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, maybe courts should consider not giving bail to armed robbery suspects. We have had incidents where the community would be happy upon the arrest of someone, but a few days later the same person would be seen roaming the streets after being granted bail. Police can arrest suspects but if they are given bail, they can still commit crimes. You might discover that we are having the same rogue criminals making our lives difficult. And if bad comes to worse, police should just shoot to kill, in other countries they do it,” said the resident.
Another resident Mr Jenothi Ncube (57) from Selborne Park said it will take the whole society to effectively deal with the spike in armed robbery cases.
“We are the ones to blame for what is happening. Police are working very hard to uproot these elements but as long as we are feeding these criminals, accepting food or money from our children who are not involved in any economic activity, this is exactly what we are going to reap. We will continue having criminals because it’s us who hide them. Before we even think of harsh measures by law enforcement agents, what are we doing to curb the crimes ourselves?” asked Mr Ncube. — @nqotshili/@jdgjarachara.