THERE is everything fundamentally wrong with members of the police force engaging in acts which may put them on a collision course with the basic tenets of their Service Charter and the laws that govern their operations. Officers who dabble in activities that tarnish the image of the Zimbabwe Republic Force — itself a disciplined organisation with a stellar reputation locally and abroad — are not only a liability to the force but are a clear and present danger to the national security of the nation.
Their nefarious activities erode the trust that the public has in the police and diminishes their moral standing in society and lofty standards that loyal members of the force have imbued over the years. When members of the public lose trust and respect for their police force, law and order is threatened.
There are countless examples of excellent police work which we have chronicled on these pages but of late, we have also reported on the activities of bad apples in the ZRP — rogue men and women who are doing their bit to soil the image of the police.
Forget the bribe-taking traffic cops or the foot-patrol brigade who will extract the last dollar out of your pocket for a flimsy offence, some officers have now joined the ranks of omakorokoza where they are shamelessly engaging in gold panning in broad daylight. When we started reporting on the numerous “wars” between rival gangs in the lucrative gold mining trade, we were baffled by the inertia exhibited by the police in those areas where the clashes were rife.
Recently, there were bloody clashes between gangs of marauding panners in Filabusi resulting in a gruesome slaying of one of the ring leaders linked to Esigodini gold baron, Mr Baron Dube.
Qalisani Moyo — popularly known as Friday of Sanale area in Filabusi — had his right foot chopped off in a nasty fight over a claim at HeyHill Farm in November last year. Earlier in the year, Mr Dube was also linked to a seven-hour battle pitting his gang with those of a rival at Esigodini.
In both instances, the police were slow to react to the clashes and only intervened after the damage had been done. There are also numerous unresolved murder cases in the Esigodini area where alleged gold panners have been brutally murdered and their bodies placed on the Bulawayo-Beitbridge railway track. For the past two weeks, we have been reporting on the bloody clashes pitting rival gangs of omakorokoza in Inyathi area of Bubi District in Matabeleland North.
The presence of panners popularly known as “MaShurugwi” — ostensibly because they come from that area — has reportedly raised tensions and heightened clashes with local panners. To their credit, the police have reacted swiftly to the disturbances by deploying 200 cops to the area to quell the violence. Subsequently, more than 30 gold panners were rounded up and have been appearing in court where they received varying jail sentences for criminal trespassing, theft of gold ore and possession of explosives without a permit.
Sentencing some of the gold panners this week, Nkayi resident magistrate Mr Themba Chimiso said illegal gold panners from other districts were a menace to the Inyathi community. “We must give you offenders a deterrent sentence. People come from as far as Mutoko to come and cause havoc here in Inyathi.
We have more than 60 illegal gold miners who have come from different parts of the country and are a menace to the Inyathi community,” he said.
Following the arrest of the illegal miners, a total of 17 police officers stationed at Nkayi and Inyathi police stations were also rounded up on allegations of engaging in gold panning, aiding and abetting the activities of illegal miners and various other acts of impropriety in contravention of the Police Act. They are currently appearing before an internal tribunal at Nkayi as we report elsewhere on these pages. Their arrest came in the wake of revelations that some illegal miners were working for police officers who in turn shielded them from arrest.
This is totally wrong and we commend the ZRP for moving swiftly to curtail their activities. These rogue officers deserve deterrent sentences to discourage other like-minded details from such malfeasance. Like we alluded to above, criminals thrive when the system is corrupt and this incestuous relationship between omakorokoza and a few misguided junior officers had a potential to morph into a monstrous disaster for the community.
Already, marauding gangs of illegal miners had literally become a law unto themselves as evidenced by their violent nature. Zimbabwe is a peaceful country not some Wild West outpost where outlaws rule. The law of the jungle cannot be allowed to manifest itself anywhere in this country. We hope the arrest and prosecution of these rogue officers will put a lid on the activities of lumpen elements in Inyathi and its surrounding areas.
Article Source: The Chronicle