Police admit machete gangs frustration; courts release suspects for lack of evidence as people scared to testify

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By Staff Reporter

POLICE have conceded struggling to contain machete violence and murders rocking Kwekwe saying members of the public are terrified to help in fear of either being killed or injured by the marauding gangs.

Speaking during belated Press Freedom Day local commemorations, Kwekwe District Police spokesperson Nkululeko Nduna said gangs perpetrating crimes in the city were known but people are afraid of testifying against them in court.

“Murders here are being committed with the use of machetes,” said Nduna.

“That’s why as police we came up with the prohibition order in an endeavour to reduce murder cases.”

The so-called machete wars are linked to artisanal gold mining in the Midlands city.

The ZRP spokesman said it was up to the society to come forward and assist police in identifying the culprits.

“When these crimes are committed the police are not there. Therefore, there is need for community members to step up and assist with evidence and testify against these people in court,” he said.

“The reason why these people get released by the courts is because there will be no evidence to pin them to the crime. This is mainly caused by the fact that people are not prepared to come forward and testify against these gangs in courts.

“Even in extreme cases when one would have been hacked by machetes they are not prepared to testify in court, or have these gangs prosecuted.”

Nduna continued; “This then makes our jobs difficult. We want to see these people behind bars but then it’s a problem to see the recycling where they are arrested and released later.

“We need to fight these crimes as a united front. There is need for the community to be brave and decide the kind of community they want for themselves by testifying against these gangs.”

Violence around the country’s gold mining districts peaked after the government decided to decriminalise artisanal gold mining.

The move, which also has severe effects on the environment, sought to help the country earn more from gold exports.

So far all indications are that the move, which was also informed by political considerations, is bearing fruit as gold production has increased. The bulk of the gold comes from these artisanal miners.

However this increase in the national gold output has its true cost hidden in the lives lost through this nationwide spike in cases of machete attacks.