We have criminals among us: Bulawayo police boss Officer Commanding Bulawayo Province, Commissioner Patton Mbangwa

Stanford Chiwanga and Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporters

POLICE Officer Commanding Bulawayo Province, Commissioner Patton Mbangwa has said the first step towards ending the scourge of crime in Bulawayo was for residents to accept that “we have criminals among us” and to admit to themselves that they are not doing enough to assist the police to fight crime.

In an interview on Monday, Commissioner Mbangwa said Bulawayo has a crime problem and residents are not doing enough to stop it as the criminals, who terrorise the city, are our neighbours, colleagues, friends and relatives.

The top cop, while praising residents who help police in crime prevention by reporting criminal activities, expressed concern at the culture of indifference, crime justification and blatant flirtation with criminality in Bulawayo.

“Our plea is that many members of the public assist the police, if we are to win this war against criminals. It is not a secret that these criminals stay among us. They are our friends, they are our children, they are our buddies. However, someone out there is very much aware that so and so did this or that, and they keep it to themselves. The fight against crime becomes difficult if information isn’t shared,” said Commissioner Mbangwa.

“If members of the public could come forth with whatever information that they think, let it be given to the police then the police will sieve and determine the information can be of any value. Then we can satisfactorily say we are fighting crime with the community.”

Commissioner Mbangwa said it was disheartening to know that most criminals violate the law with impunity because they are confident that no one will inform the police.

“Some of these offences occur in the full glare of some of us, but we just say it has nothing to do with me. But tomorrow we aren’t sure that it will directly impact you. I also want to take this opportunity to thank those who are working so much with the police, who are giving us information. Most of the information that we are getting is positive. But there are some who don’t want to, and crime keeps going up,” said Commissioner Mbangwa.

He said, citing the case of the serial rapist who was nabbed after Bulawayo residents assisted police with information, the police are more effective when they have people on their side.


“Bringing the point closer home, the lone rapist who was purporting to be a malayitsha, who victimised 19 girls, raising over 25 rape cases in Bulawayo, was arrested after the public, police and the media joined hands,” said Commissioner Mbangwa.

The man would act as umalayitsha and convince the victims, some as young as 16 years of age, that he had been sent by relatives based in South Africa to deliver groceries. He then claimed that his delivery vehicle had broken down and asked his victims to accompany him to Gwabalanda suburb to collect their groceries.

The unsuspecting victims would then get into the man’s Honda Fit. On the way, he would turn on the girls, produce a knife and rape them. He also robbed the girls of their phones and money.

Last year Commissioner Mbangwa, after a spate of armed robberies, called for a one-on-one meeting with the business community and members of the security sector.

Commissioner Mbangwa said after the meeting, armed robberies and break-ins at businesses in the province have declined although more needs to be done.

A Honda Fit

“In our client service charter we promised members of the public that we were going to assist in stamping out the fear of crime within the communities. Of late we have had these various robberies where the usage of machetes, axes and some other dangerous weapons have been on the loose. Obviously it becomes a problem to us when we receive these reports, numerous of them from across the city. We always try to revise our strategies, once these things become many, we then call upon our teams,” said Commissioner Mbangwa.

He said there are many platforms where members of the public can engage the police.

“We have a lot of platforms, such as the neighbourhood watch committees to try and assist in fighting crimes. We have got the crime consultative forums, we are saying members of the public can join these. We also need ideas from them. We have got business against crime where we say they can come and assist with resources. Our job is handicapped by the lack of resources and if they can come, we can be on top of the situation.” 

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