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Villagers are concerned about their safety and lack of justice in Bubi. Image by Unsplash
Villagers are worried because of what they say is an increase in crime, not only that, they feel the justice system is failing them.
BUBI (The Citizen Bulletin) — Lovemore Toma of Bubi recalls the horror that occurred within the vicinity of his homestead.
“On May 1, at 8 pm while in my house with family, I heard a woman screaming asking me to save her as a man was close to raping her. I opened the door and I saw a man holding a machete chasing after her,” Toma says.
The would-be victim was on her way to her homestead with a fellow villager identified as Khulekani Khumalo. According to Toma, Khumalo was stabbed by two men.
“As the two were dragging Khumalo into the bush, another was trying to rape her, but she overpowered him, escaped but he chased after her.”
Lovemore Toma, Bubi villager
Toma says the attempted rape suspect was later captured by villagers who severely beat him up.
In 2017, Bubi district in Matabeleland North attained notoriety for being a hotspot of violent machete gang attacks in the region. The attacks, some of them fatal, were concentrated in mining areas as the district has vast gold deposits. The frequent gold rush craze attracted gold hunters from various parts of the country.
Back then, several arrests were done but villagers in Inyathi and Siganda are now concerned over a recent spike in violent criminal activities committed by machete gangs. Villagers speak of robberies, rape and even murder.
They are concerned that despite reports being made to the police, arrests are rarely made to the known criminals. They suspect the machete gangs are conniving with local police hence their calls for higher authorities to descend in the district to whip police officers into line and stop criminal activities.
Toma says in the May incident he witnessed, villagers who apprehended the criminal now having pending cases at the courts. He feels known perpetrators are let loose by the justice system.
“Off late robberies are rampant but it seems the police are turning a blind eye to it. It's not surprising as there are claims that some police officers are part of the robberies.”
Lovemore Nyathi, one of the people who apprehended the criminal confirms rampant criminal activities in Bubi. “It’s true that we are in a serious crisis of violent crimes and we really need help as a community,” says Nyathi.
“There are a lot of criminal activities but currently I am under trial after apprehending a suspect, so I am not at liberty to comment much,” he says.
#ThisConstitution leader Abigail Mupambi who is also a villager in Bubi says they demand justice for the violence victims.
“Police are only implementers of the law and should never be tempted or be allowed to abuse the very law. As a human rights Defender, I have taken it upon myself to take the Inyathi police to the National Complaints Desk in Harare. For the record, the police exist to protect the masses and the opposite of such can never be tolerated,” Mupambi says.
“I am grateful we have resilient citizens in Bubi who are brave enough to stand against what is wrong. We urge the people to learn to peacefully engage higher offices should police or any other public servants behave contrary to their mandate.”
Bubi legislator Sonny Mguni admits that his constituency is a hot spot of machete gangs.
“Incidents of violence are always witnessed in many gold mining sites. The police are doing their best to maintain law and order to curb those perpetrators of violence,” Mguni says.
Mguni adds that law enforcement agents effect arrests.
Bubi villagers demand justice for the violence victims. Image by Sunshine Coast
“Arrests have been made and records are there for you to prove for yourself. As a local leader, I contributed fuel and my car to the police to make follow-ups. In parliament I advocated for the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Defense, Home Affairs and Security Services and Mining Committee (joint portfolio committees) to conduct Public Hearings in Bubi, the program is still underway.”
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda recently expressed concern over the spike in machete wars in Inyathi and Siganda areas. Banda, who had no ready figures at hand to share with The Citizen Bulletin, ascribes the violent fights on misunderstandings among villagers.
“Machete wars are happening in areas like Inyathi and Siganda under Bubi district and are a cause for concern,” says Banda adding that the case of Khumalo’s assault is already in the courts.
In 2020, four men armed with machetes, knobkerries and shovels attacked mineworkers at Inyathi and got away with 150kg of gold ore.
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