By Mutsa Makuvaza
SOME of the former kombi drivers and conductors who did not join ZUPCO are believed the perpetrators behind cases of robbery and theft which have been on the rise across the country, Parliament heard yesterday.
Across the country, incidents of muggings, armed robbery, theft and fraud have been on the rise and Parliament debated the issue during this Wednesday sitting.
Posing a question to Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Hon C Moyo asked the Minister to clarify sentiments that unemployed former kombi drivers and conductors were among the suspected criminal elements wrecking havoc across the country.
“I want to ask the Hon. Minister whether it is true that the former kombi drivers and conductors who did not join ZUPCO are the perpetrators especially when we consider the rise in the crime rates?” the legislator said.
Kazembe was astounded by the question and admitted he was hearing such revelations for the first time.
“Honestly, I am hearing this for the first time but it could be worthwhile information that I will take across to the police to investigate further.”
Earlier on, Kazembe had told Parliament that Police have intensified their operations throughout the country to fight armed robberies, burglary and muggings.
“As previously alluded to in my previous responses to the same question, the Commissioner General of Police has taken note of robbery reports. Furthermore, there are numerous on-going measures aimed at curbing armed robberies, burglaries and muggings which include the following: intensifying foot, cycle and motorised patrols in crime prone areas.
“In addition, the Commissioner General has directed all officers commanding provinces to deploy Support Unit, Criminal Investigations Department, Duty Uniform Branch and Police Intelligence in hot spots to curtail the robbery cases.”
Kazembe said police were also heightening awareness campaigns, educating members of the public not to keep large sums of money at home or business premises or even to move around with huge sums of money.
“You find for instance people moving around with R190 000. I know there is a case where this amount was stolen. You find people keeping as much as close to a million United States dollars in a company safe when financial institutions are available.”
The Police Command is engaging the Judiciary as well as another measure, urging them to impose stiffer penalties on perpetrators of violent crimes such as armed robberies, muggings and murder as a deterrent measures.
Kazembe also appealed to the House to tighten the legislation so that fugitive armed robbers when finally caught are not easily given bail.
“In fact, some of the armed robberies are being committed by such elements who flout bail conditions with impunity, for instance the notorious armed robber Taj Abdul who has been evading justice for more than 20 years. When he was arrested, he was on the brink of being granted bail.
“As another measure, the police is also engaging various stakeholders with a view to enhancing inter-agency co-operation in the fight against crime.”
Recently, the police held meetings with security companies in an endeavour to improve security strategies such as the way companies are handling cash-in-transit movements among others as another measure.
Police have also established that some of the armed robbery cases being recorded across the country are as a result of the influx of unlicensed firearms.
Some of these firearms were illegally brought into the country by criminal syndicates through the country’s porous borders.
Kzembe said some licensed firearms owners are also not securing their weapons and in the process end up losing them to criminals who then use them to commit robbery cases.
As a result of increasing crimes, the police is intensifying roadblocks, stop and searches as well as awareness campaigns to conscientise firearm license holders to adhere to the provisions of the Firearms Act which demands the safe storage of firearms at all times, Kazembe said. – Zimbabwe Voice ■