Police moves to ban machete gangs



POLICE in Matabeleland South have banned the public from carrying an assortment of material deemed dangerous that include machetes, okapi knives, swords, daggers, catapults, knobkerries and spears.

The ban, which covers other traditional weaponry, is strangely supported by the repealed Public Order and Security Act (POSA), replaced by the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act ( Chapter 9:23), effected on July 1, 2006.

The action is, however, strongly believed to be targeted mainly at the gold-rich pockets of the area under focus where violent clashes between artisanal miners have claimed lives and maimed others.

In an appeal through social media platforms, Matabeleland South police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele said the ban is effective from March 5 to May 5 in Gwanda, March 19 to June 19 in Beitbridge and March 6 to June 6 in Bulilimamangwe.

“ZR (Zimbabwe Republic) Police Matabeleland South province requests assistance in the print and electronic media publication(s), of prohibition notice for possession of offensive weapons in public within Gwanda, Beitbridge,” Ndebele said in a notice dated March 9.

“The period covers March 5 to May 5 2019 (for) Gwanda district, March 19 to June 19 (for) Beitbridge district and March 6 to June 6 for Bulilimamangwe district,” Ndebele said, attaching written requests from the commanding officers for the respective police district.

Chief Superintendents Rudo Chitombi, Tichaona Nyongo and Kenneth Thebe of Gwanda, Beitbridge and Bulilimamangwe police districts in their separate notices quote the repealed POSA.

Ndebele said the development did not reflect any particular incident, but was “a choice” of the different commanders in relationship to crimes prevalent in their respective areas.

“There are no particular incidents that have triggered this, but you will notice that there are some common crimes that may be on the increase like robbery and other similar criminal activities. Any commander can choose when he wants to effect it in their area,” Ndebele said.

Fights over gold claims and mine dumps are regular in Gwanda, where some lives have been lost in recent clashes at Vova.

In Beitbridge, cases of armed robbery have become a daily occurrence as economic hardships take their toll on Zimbabweans faced by an array of challenges including unstable pricing of basic commodities, scarcity of cash and high unemployment.

Cross-border shoppers from South Africa have on many occassions fallen victim to robbers armed with guns, knives and at times machetes.

At the weekend, a man was stabbed and robbed at the Harare- Bulawayo junction in Beitbridge where several such incidents have been reported before.