EDITORIAL COMMENT: Rise in violent crime worrying

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WE note with concern a steady rise in violent crime in Bulawayo and its environs and urge authorities to nip the problem in the bud before it spirals out of control. The sprawling suburb of Cowdray Park is slowly carving a reputation for breeding criminals with incidents of serious crimes going up in the area.

Last year, residents of Cowdray Park and adjacent Luveve suburb heaved a sigh of relief when a 10-member gang, which unleashed a reign of terror, raping and robbing residents — was arrested, tried and sentenced to a total of 629 years in jail.

The terror gang — which committed a total of 90 crimes including multiple counts of rape, robbery, unlawful entry and carjacking between December 2015 and January 16 last year — was stopped dead in its tracks when its members raped two female teachers and another woman at Luveve High School.

Prosecutors declared after the trial that residents of Luveve, Cowdray Park and surrounding areas would for once, have a peaceful night’s sleep as  their tormentors  would not harm them anymore. They might have spoken too soon! We reported at the weekend how a woman from Cowdray Park was found dead with several stab wounds on the face and body in a suspected rape and murder case.

A resident stumbled on Mrs Ivy Sibanda’s body at about 8.45AM on Friday in a bushy area between Hawkflight and Hlalani Kuhle stands. Mrs Sibanda, a member of the Zaoga church who is thought to be in her late 30s, is suspected to have been raped and murdered on her way home from a church service on Thursday evening.

Church mates described her as a God-fearing woman and her body was found in some shrubs, near the roadside. She had allegedly agreed to meet her husband on the way after the church service, but she did not show up. Her husband, identified only as Mr Sibanda, is alleged to have waited for her at the agreed spot and when she failed to show up, he allegedly called her, but her phone was not being answered.

On the same night, some residents are alleged to have heard a woman screaming near the spot the body was found, but no one went to investigate. The Cowdray Park community was shaken after waking up to the horrific scene of Mrs Sibanda’s half naked body with several stab wounds on the face and neck. Her undergarments were torn while her bruised body was in a pool of blood. Her cellphone, which was still at the scene, was still ringing at intervals.

Mrs Sibanda was a mother of three and a God- fearing woman who never missed church services. Her youngest child is said to be less than two years old.

Ward 28 Councillor Collet Ndlovu said there were criminals terrorising residents in the area and appealed to the police to increase patrols, especially in areas that have no electricity. We are appalled by the barbaric nature of Mrs Sibanda’s rape and murder and call on the police to hunt down the culprits and bring them to book.

We are concerned that on the same day that Mrs Sibanda’s body was discovered, a cyclist was found murdered along Masiyephambili road. As we report elsewhere on these pages the man, whose identity could not be established immediately, was allegedly attacked by unknown assailants while cycling home to Nkulumane suburb. We aver that criminals are increasingly getting daring by the day and do not respect the sanctity of human life.

The callous manner in which they raped and murdered a God-fearing woman coming from church shows that they are beasts who do not deserve to live among decent people. They belong to prison where they should be locked away for lengthy spells. We agree with Clr Ndlovu that police should increase patrols in Cowdray Park and other crime hot spots.

Visible policing is one of the effective ways of reducing crime and as we have done before, we once again reiterate the need for a police station in the sprawling suburb of Cowdray Park because it is apparent that Luveve Police station cannot adequately cater for both suburbs. Residents also need to assist the police in their work by volunteering information on criminals because they live among them.

They should also form neighbourhood watch committees as they have proven effective in combating crime. We also urge people to refrain from using short cuts or secluded pathways at night as they expose themselves to the risk of being mugged or raped.

The judiciary should also come down hard on perpetrators of violent crime by handing down deterrent sentences. Society cannot continue to lose decent people to scum which preys on the weak and vulnerable. It needs to be protected from such vermin.

Article Source: The Chronicle