BY Richard Muponde
MACHETE gangs, otherwise known as MaShurugwi, have reportedly gone underground following a nationwide police blitz which has seen nearly 2 000 illegal gold miners caged for terrorising communities in gold-rich parts of the country.
A source close to the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s crack team tasked to flush out the rogue miners yesterday said they had managed to restore sanity in most mining areas although there were isolated cases being reported.
“It’s quiet now. We have not encountered the machete gangs since the arrest of some of the gang leaders. Most of them have run away from the mining areas,” a source close to the crack team said.
“Yes, there could be some isolated cases, but the menace has since gone. We will remain on the ground so that we totally comb the mining areas and rid them of the machete gangs even those isolated reports.”
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the police will continue to maintain a heavy presence in the identified hotspots to ensure all trouble causers are accounted for.
“We are going to continue working with stakeholders to see that the peace which we have established is maintained. We will continue being on the ground to combat crime in the long run,” Nyathi said.
Over 1 800 illegal miners and gang members have so far been nabbed under operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere/No to Machete Gangs.
Last week, the crack teams arrested the Ziga gang members and Macheto brothers who had terrorised miners in Kadoma and Kwekwe.
The leader of the Ziga gang, which is believed to be behind the murder of Constable Wonder Hokoyo in December, Phelandaba Tshuma was arrested in Mt Darwin while trying to jump the border into Mozambique.
His vehicle, a Toyota Hiace, was found laden with an assortment of machetes and explosives.
The police have also raided underground machete suppliers in Mbare, Harare leading to the arrest of seven suspects and recovery of 31 machetes.
The Judiciary Service Commission has also set up special courts to specifically deal with machete gangs amid calls for imposition of stiffer and mandatory jail sentences.