PANIC has gripped the wider Zhombe community in Midlands Province as the courts have released violent thugs who have known records of murder and attempted murder.
Police, ward Councillors and even local area Chiefs who spoke to HourlyHits.com over on Sunday said no one was safe in the gold-rich community as previous arrests have failed to remove the criminal elements from society.
“To say we are disappointed is an understatement. We are devastated, angry and afraid at the same time,” Chief Ndabazinhle Wait Gwesela, the traditional leader for Zhombe, said.
He said residents have blasted the courts for leniency but he as a leader understood that courts only deal with the law as it is spelled out and also deal with evidence presented before then. But he indicated he was ready to banish anyone involved in the murderous activities.
“Our people here feel the courts have let them down, and they’re justified to feel that way. Recently, a person was murdered right here at Zhombe Joel shops in full view of the public by a marauding gang. And tell you what, the gangsters are out there unleashing more violence. This is so disturbing,” said Chief Gwesela.
He said he made it clear to his subjects that anyone who commits murder will be removed from the area.
“I can’t stand murderers disturbing our peace here and will not hesitate to banish the murderer and members of his family. We do not condone such kind of behavior,” he said.
“What’s the use of a law that can’t deter crime or ensure communities are safe?” – Chief Gwesela
He said the judiciary should consider handing down heavy sentences to people arrested for murder or violence. He said if the law was lenient, then MPs have to ensure the law is a deterrent.
“What’s the use of a law that can’t deter crime or ensure communities are safe? What worries us all here is that when one is arrested, two days later, he will be back in the community causing more havoc.
“Courts must deny bail to these uncouth criminals and give them heavy sentences when convicted. All our business centers including those outside my jurisdiction such as Empress Mine, Bhamala, and Samambwa are crawling with hard-core criminals and that’s not healthy for any society,” said Chief Gwesela.
His fear is shared by a police officer at the nearby Zhombe camp who spoke off record.
“We arrest the criminals when the commit crimes, prepare dockets and send them to court. Then days later, they’re out on bail, roaming free and intimidating people and even us officers. It’s not an easy job especially here in this area,” the Constable confided.
Asked what could help stamp out the violence, the police officer said joint teams involving the army and police could put the gangs under control.
It is not just murder cases that are on the rise in Zhombe. The criminal activities of the marauding machete gangs have also resulted in a spike in robbery, murder, rape, assault, housebreaking, and stock theft cases.
A family near Empress Mine said it felt cursed when gold was discovered near their home.
“Last month, some promising gold deposits were found just 200 meters from my home, and I felt like I had been cursed,” said a local man, a retired civil servant.
“Back in the day, such a gold discovery would be cause for celebration. Nowadays, you start thinking about the security of your family and whether you’ll be left dead or permanently injured by the goons. They invade your mine at will and even the police is scared to confront some of them.”
The man said it was hard to keep the gold discovery a secret as the local gold mills know who comes to them with rich ores. It is the staff at the mills who connive with the thugs to invade people’s homes.
Police recently arrested an eight-member gang that fatally attacked a rival member with machetes at Bob’s Business Centre. The man’s body was left lying in a pool of blood with protruding intestines after he was chopped up in a case involving gold.
A man from Bhamala area is lucky to be alive after he was stabbed with a spear in another crash involving two rival gangs. He was admitted to the hospital with the spear sticking out of his belly. The moment the spear was removed, locals say he sneaked out of the hospital and is back in the community seeking revenge against those who stabbed him.
A video of Newton Ncube with a spear in his abdomen went viral on social platforms and nine gang members that attacked him were arrested and released soon after. In a previous report, HourlyHits.com revealed that Kudakwashe Mapholisa, Chrispen Nyoni, Patson Nguvaya, Sifelani Sibanda, John Malamula, Silent Magura, Stephen Takawira, Vitalis Godho, and Misheck Moyo were released on $5, 000 bail each.
Police in Midlands recently banned possession of weapons such as machetes, spears, knives, catapults, knobkerries and daggers, among other dangerous weapons. However, locals say there are far more criminals walking at the local shops than the criminals in jail.
“The law isn’t working at all,” a local Zanu PF Councillor said. “How come all the criminals we know here are walking freely despite committing these violent crimes? Who will protect the people if the courts cannot? If the army is not brought in, more bodies will be buried before Christmas.”
Midlands provincial police spokesperson Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko said cases of violence have been worrying and police will intensify patrols.
“I can confirm there were some arrests made in Zhombe and those notorious people who were giving people a torrid time were nabbed. I should hasten, however, to say the cases have become so worrying in the province. We have intensified police presence in these areas and we have also intensified police patrols and conducting stop and searches,” said Mahoko.
The statement does not excite anyone in the villages and at the shopping centers.
“Police patrols?” a vendor at Empress Mine shops laughed it off. “No patrol has ever helped anyone here. All we know is the police are now scared to confront the gangs. Unless they bring in the army, we are alone.”