By Nqobile Tshili
Government is dealing with armed robbery cases involving members of the security sector and has said those who resist arrest will be shot.
Increasing armed robberies, mainly targeting banks and international money transfer agencies have been recorded in the country.
Some of the armed robbers have been disarming and robbing cash-in-transit crews with their modus operandi leading to speculation that experts are involved.
The increasing cases has seen Government deploying special units in armed robbery hotspots in the country to deal with the increasing number of cases.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said police were in the process of flushing out bad apples within the security sector.
Minister Kazembe was responding to legislators during the Senate Question and Answer session last Thursday after it was put to him that some police officers and soldiers were involved in some of the armed robberies.
“It is indeed true that most of these cases of armed robberies are being done by armed men and women from the police force as well as the army. I would like to emphasise and indicate to him that Government is indeed working on that, but I would also like to indicate that such cases have decreased. Some who resist arrest are being shot. We have two or three cases like that; the recent case, that of eight, a group we arrested recently. We have many groups that are involved, but I am happy that police are doing all they can to fix this issue,” said Minister Kazembe.
“The issue we had which was a problem was an issue of resources, but now it is going to be a thing of the past because that problem is now being fixed. Recently we had those who were arrested in Beitbridge and the Government is seized with such cases. They are working very hard to put to an end such cases of robberies.”
The Minister said police will also decisively deal with cops and other law enforcement agents who are involved in illegal mining activities.
“On police officers being part of artisanal miners, if we have evidence we will act accordingly. No one is above the law be it a police officer or a magistrate. If we have evidence we will act on that and put people behind bars,” said the Minister.
He said economic challenges cannot be used as an excuse for law enforcement agents to break the law.
Minister Kazembe said some of the economic challenges being experienced are just a passing phase.
“Let me give an example, if someone gets injured and starts bleeding at times people expect stitches. When you get injured when we were still young boys, our mothers would apply salt and spirit on our wounds. This is what the Head of State did because we were coming from a bad economic environment. His intention was to fix this. Transitional Stabilisation Programme was done and we have passed that phase,” said Minister Kazembe.
“Right now the economy is changing for the better. It is our intention to change their salaries and reflect the development and the positive change in the economy.”
He said Government has started addressing some of the challenges that were constraining police in delivering services.
“As police, we were having a problem of resources especially vehicles. Transport is a critical issue for us to attend such cases. I am grateful to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (Professor Mthuli Ncube), he provided us with vehicles. Resources are critical for police to react to such criminal offences.
“We have a lot of training programmes; we are training our police officers. We also have an integration programme and because of the technology which was passed by Government, I think this will go a long way in assisting us,” he said.
Minister Kazembe said with regards to police officers involved in corrupt activities, members of the public are also to blame as they are the ones who offer officers money as opposed to letting the law take its course.
“Corruption has become cancerous when it comes to bribes that we hear they are asking for. I would like to say all of us as citizens, we have an obligation to put an end to this cancerous issue of bribes. I would like to inform everyone that whenever there is a case, police are ready to fix that. We are saying zero tolerance to corruption.
“For corruption to take place, it needs two people. It is my request that you should take pictures of such characters in the police force. You will see that we act swiftly and put them behind bars,” said Minister Kazembe. The Chronicle