Byo violent crime: Police say illegal firearms are being smuggled into the country

Police in Bulawayo say there has been an increase in the smuggling of illegal firearms into the country which has led to a spike in armed robbery cases in the city and other parts of the country.

Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube assured panic-stricken residents that the police were making progress in solving some of the cases.

“We are hot on the trail of those cases and so far we are scoring some highly positive results because last week, we arrested seven armed robbers who robbed a filling station at Amakhosi (along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road). We are clearing quite a number of robberies in Bulawayo,” he said.

Inspector Ncube noted the worrying development as new crime syndicates, which indicated firearms are finding their way into the country.

“We are making arrests and making a number of recoveries of firearms but we are seeing more cases, meaning a lot of amateurs are coming into the field of robbery,” he said.

He also advised businesses to be alert and urged security companies to make sure their personnel were positioned strategically.

“Security personnel should not be standing with petrol attendants or other workers but be strategically positioned so that when the premises are attacked, it’s not inclusive of them so that they come in from outside, closing in on the robbers. But if found in an office or inside it’s easy to hold them hostage and they will be incapacitated,” Inspector Ncube said.

He also encouraged residents to come forward with information.

“Last week, we scored when we arrested carjackers from Masiyephambili who were stealing handbags. That information came from members of the public,” he said.

Speaking in Parliament recently, Bulawayo Proportional Representational MP, Jasmine Toffa warned the country was turning into a “rotten state” and urged the government to provide more resources to police.

“The rate of crime in Zimbabwe has escalated and our police force does not have enough resources such as motor vehicles. Police stations are not adequately equipped, they are dependent currently on just fingerprinting,” she said.

In an interview with CITE, Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) coordinator, Emmanuel Ndlovu, said due to deteriorating law and order situation in Bulawayo, residents are now living in fear of violent crime.

“In the wake of increased crime in Bulawayo residents are concerned about their safety. This has contributed to a decline in organisational life in communities. In the past, police used to coordinate crime prevention committees that included various stakeholders and residents also sat in the meetings and provided insights,” he said.

“Recently we saw initiatives by the police to engage business people, it’s commendable. We need various stakeholders in order to burst organised crime syndicates in Bulawayo.”

In the latest incident, a petrol attendant was shot in the chest at Flo Garage in Tshabalala.

He was lucky to survive but not for the female cashier at a liquor store at Ascot Shopping Centre who was shot twice in the head and died instantly two weeks ago.

Last week, armed robbers escaped with seven boxes full of cash after robbing a cash-in-transit van at a Choppies Supermarket in Parklands.

On March 1, a gang armed with a pistol struck at a Trek garage in Gwabalanda suburb and stole US$15,300 and R800.

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