By Anna Chibamu
ATLEAST 35 Zimbabweans have been killed in the last 13 months by machete wielding gangs, Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe has revealed.
He was giving oral evidence before a joint sitting by the Mines committee and two other committees in parliament on Monday.
The other committees are those in charge of Defence and Home Affairs as well as the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security.
Kazembe said between January last year to date, the criminal gangs have also 15 women and assaulted 382 people with 225 robberies also recorded.
He ruled out any thoughts by government to deploy the army to deal with dangerous gangs that have been terrorising villagers mostly in the country’s mining areas and surrounding towns.
“I do not subscribe to the army (idea); so far so good. We are seeing results. It is all nice and quiet. Go to Mazowe, Kitsiyatota, Manicaland, police are achieving sanity.
“To date, most of the gangsters’ coordinators have been arrested. We have efficient police. There is no need to escalate the issue to the army,” Kazembe said.
He said statistics relating to machete violence have also gone down.
“Cases of such crimes (in Filabusi) have gone down. I have not heard any cases at the rate we used to.
“(Police) operations are on-going until there is complete sanity.”
Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services portfolio committee chairperson Levi Mayihlome asked the minister why police only sprang to action when one of their own had been killed at a Kadoma mine late last year.
Kazembe exonerated police amid accusations of alleged inactivity as the gangs waged a terror onslaught in affected areas.
He added, “From January to December 2019, 4 062 arrests have been made during the ‘No to Anarchy Operation; 1832 arrests have been made to those dealing in dangerous weapons such as machetes and in the last 36 days, 3 137 arrests have been made.”
Kazembe attributed the machete gang menace to lack of order within the country’s mines.
“As long as there is order in the mining sector, crimes become less.
“Laws are not clear and there is a lot that needs to be done when laws pertaining to mining are crafted.”
Kazembe could not bring himself to confirming reports that rogue police and army officers were also involved clandestinely in the machete wars.
“Yes, I cannot deny nor confirm to that but a couple of them (police) have been arrested and appeared before the courts,” he said.