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Harare hit by crime wave amid COVID-19 lockdown, residents organise neighborhood watch committees

by Josiah Mucharowana in Pretoria
20 May 2020 at 07:48hrs | Views
The current lockdown currently underway to fight coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in crime as people are hard-struck to make a decent living in Harare.

Residents took to social media timelines decrying the wave of criminal incidences saying it has by and large become a thorn in the feet with mostly daring unemployed youngsters involved in house break-ins.

As a result however, some neighbourhoods have coalesced neighborhood watch committees to keep an eye on properties even in their absence.

"Getting stolen from is not amusing. In Helensvale in our street, we hired a private security company and we are paying 20 dollars every household. We had seen a lot of crime last month,"said  Cynthia.

"Thieves must be arrested, they give us pain,"she added.

Another Harare resident Phillip Pisirayi said he recently experienced a break-in that is costly in a very challenging economy.

"Yes things are tough but that doesn't justify breaking into other people's houses. Government must be tough with these lazy chaps,'

"They took my 500 littres water tank last week and now I have to part with another USD 400 for a replacement,"he added.

Youngsters from Epworth have been largely blamed as the main culprits for a spate of crime in Northern Eastern Harare.
Mudavanhu Gitsa said: "The Epworth team is a menace and the way they strike tell it is after a massive surveillance. I suspect when they move around with hoes looking for piece jobs, they would be doing surveillance,"

"Getting stolen from is painful. Well, this is the same pain when Zanu PF inflicts on societies when they steal diamonds and other precious minerals. Corruption by the elites and ruling oligarchs must get the same condemnation,"Gitsa added.

Earlier this month, thieves broke into former The Herald Newspaper Editor' s place in Greendale, Harare and stole a 55 inch plasma television set which is yet to be recovered and no arrests have been made so far.

Another resident Lawrence Archibald Bhebhe said the recent crime wave has been unheard of.

"Thieves are now a menace in the neighbourhoods. The bad thing is that they are so daring,'

 "I heard a place where they stole money from a woman and her daughter during this lockdown,"he said.

Another city resident along Bulawayo Road Tawanda Willis Chigumbura said he was recently mugged in the house.

"My TV was stolen, my phones , my gas tank in the house. I had visitors, they were also mugged. The following month my neighbour lost the same items like me,"

"But the police came and took statements.It ended there. This side around Bulawayo road is terrible. The level of crime is horrendous,' he said.

Luke Mbune said they stole three chickens at his place while another resident  Author Bothwell Masikoto said: ' I suffered the same a few weeks ago , the same number of chickens. Add security and put the locks inside not outside ,"he said.

Ratidzi Mgungu concurred Harare is in ucharttered territory with incremental occurences of crime.

"Let's not justify the work of thieves. Last week they broke into my niece's house in Shawasha Hills. She is a single parent,"

"They stole everything they could grab including bath soap and meat in the fridge. They nearly raped her daughter but luckily one of the burglars was against it and they let go. On top of that they defaecated by the gate , Cheeky, she was left traumatised. It is nonsense,"he said.

Kenneth Mukati said Zimbabwe as a whole is witnessing an unheralded surge in crime never witnessed before.

" Zim is now a dangerous place where burglars break into your own house. Streets now have guns, a thing I never thought would happen in Zimbabwe,"he said.

Meanwhile Mathias Bhasera, has  been quick to dismiss burglars as lazy and deserving of harsher corporal punishment.

"Thieves deserve a thorough beating. They are habitual and lazy. Some people do piece jobs and their families survive on that,"he said.

Another Michael Gwarisa said he had no sympathy for thieves.

"I have no sympathy for thieves, beat them, cut their fingers one by one and I don't care, ' he said.

In addition another resident Mthanda Ncube seconded the sentiments thieves deserve heavy punishment.

"If you don't show zero tolerance on these scumbags, we will end up like South Africa. Criminals must fear the law,"

"Poverty and hunger can never be used to defend criminals. You live by the gun, die by the gun,"he said.

Takesure Sithole moaned about Zimbawe's  struggling economy in which citizens find it a Herculean task to earn a decent living.

The majority of people in Zimbabwe are unemployed and fend largely from informal menial jobs and vending.

"No one can ever justify crime but believe it or not, the economic ills of a society or country have a hand on this. However, many times the impact is going to be felt on the wrong people who are the homeowners who are also struggling,"he said.

The Capital City once boasted as the Sunshine City owing to its pristine and orderly look.

It is famed for its bolourvreds canvasssed in purple colour in spring from blooming Jacaranda trees.

Continually soaring prices of basic foodstuffs because of hyperinflation and the absence of credible safety nets by the government during the protracted lockdown to fight off coronavirus has contributed to many families  resorting to minimising the number of meals in a day.

In addition to a hyperinflationary environment the country has witnessed a severe drought with the UN World Food Programme declaring 7.7 million people as in need of aid.

The World Food Programme' s Executive Director David Beasily who had been to Zimbabwe last year recently told the UN security Council that coronavirus was bringing untold suffering to the world.

"If we don't act now, we could be facing multiple famines of Biblical proportions within a few short months,"he said.

An estimated 3 million Zimbabweans live in South Africa the bulk of which survive on menial jobs as gardeners and housemaids as they work in the shadows without proper documentation.

A UK government travel advisory states that people travelling alone in Zimbabwe may be more vulnerable. Incidences of pickpocketing, muggings and jewellery theft are common in city centres especially after dark.

 Meanwhile the US Embassy travel advisory in its 2019 Crime and Safety Report says there also have been multiple ATM Card skimming in Harare with victims attacked upon using ATMs.

 It also says the President and other senior government officials travel in huge convoys with their security personnel quick to run other motorists off the road. They harass drivers who fail to pull of the road in time.


Source - Josiah Mucharowana in Pretoria

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