Gun crime rattles security sector

Former Criminal Investigations Department (CID) officer, Jaison Muvhevhi

THE sudden spike in gun crimes across the country has pushed the security sector into panic with indications that police have since flooded the streets with detectives expected to sniff out menacing criminals.

The gruesome murder of a senior police officer and two others in Hwedza recently sent shockwaves across the security sector.

To punctuate the gravity of the shock, panicky security chiefs deployed a military chopper in rural Hwedza in search of the menacing murder-accused ex-detective, Jaison Muvevi who allegedly shot and killed three people before his foiled escape into neighbouring Mozambique.

The death of a senior police officer triggered Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga to send a chilling warning that the security and law enforcement agencies were not going to hesitate to shoot to kill in the event of a confrontation by deadly criminals.

A spike in these gun crimes has also implicated members of the police force, military and other security agencies. Recently, a policeman, Central Intelligence Organisation(CIO) officer, an Air Force member and seven other civilians were arrested over a spate of robberies in which they targeted truck drivers across the country.

In the quest to sanitise the force internally, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) towards the end of last year instituted an aggressive transfer of details across the country following reports of rising indiscipline, incompetence and allegations of corruption within the force.

 As part of measures to curb the rising gun crimes in the country, the police have set up a team of detectives that will descend on armed robberies reportedly masterminded by soldiers and security officers.

The year 2022 and a part of 2023 saw a rising number of security forces (serving and retired) being arraigned before the courts charged with several criminal cases some of which are of an aggravated nature.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi told the Independent that they have intensified efforts to crack down on armed robbers who are wreaking havoc in various parts of the country.

“We have teams of substantial officers on the ground who are working to end robberies and so far we have recovered stolen loot and also vehicles which were bought using proceeds from the stolen loot.

“We are working with security companies to install security devices and also the judiciary to ensure that some of the cases are dealt with and that the offenders will not repeat offences. The law should take its course and everyone needs to know that,” Nyathi said.

In November last year, police deputy commissioner Learn Ncube told a Security Association of Zimbabwe breakfast meeting that armed robbery cases had become a thorn in the flesh of the law enforcement organ.

According to Ncube, cases of armed robberies where firearms were used went up by 15% to 1 043 between January and October 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

He said cases of armed robbery where other weapons were used went up 35 to 3 566 while plain robbery cases grew by 12% to 3 933 during the period under review.

Armed robberies have been on the rise amid indications some of the cases involved serving and ex-members of the security forces.

In 2022, four armed robbers, including a serving member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, were killed in a shoot-out after they robbed a Harare businessman of US$10 000.

Members of the military were also arrested in connection with the US$2,5 million cash-in-transit heist near the Gwebi River Bridge, which occurred early last year.

In another incident, a serving police officer and an ex-member of the force were part of the suspected notorious robber Musa Taj Abdul’s gang. They were arrested over a spate of high-profile robberies committed across the country.

Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe has since admitted before the Senate that serving and former police officers and soldiers were involved in the majority of armed robberies recorded throughout the country.

He, however, said the cases had decreased as the suspects were being apprehended with some of them shot dead.

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