Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
POLICE in Bulawayo arrested 49 rowdy youths for criminal nuisance and public drinking on the closing day of the 60th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) on Saturday.
The 49 were aged between 15 and 25 years with minors released into the custody of their parents or guardians while adults were made to pay fines.
Police said some teenagers and youths were an eyesore in the city’s Central Business District on the day due to their disorderly behaviour.
Some of them were drunk, blocking traffic while others were hanging out of windows of moving vehicles risking their lives.
Bulawayo acting police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said: “This was a Trade Fair with a difference mainly because of the heavy deployment of police officers. On Sunday before ZITF kicked off, our Officer Commanding province Commissioner Bernard Dumbura briefed all the members who were deployed in targeted areas on the need to be alert. Most of the divisions were headed by a Chief Superintendent.
“The heavy deployment of police officers led to the overall reduction of crime in the CBD during the ZITF period. The study on previous Trade Fair periods also led to the deployment of more uniformed and plain clothes police officers on the closing day of the fair. This resulted in the arrest of 49 youths between the ages of 15 and 25 years for criminal nuisance. Some of them were drunk and were even blocking traffic.”
He said the cops also rescued 10 teenage girls aged between 13 and 17 years.
Insp Ncube said the alert cops observed that the girls were hanging out in places that made them vulnerable to abuse.
“The rescued girls were only released to the custody of their parents. As police we are concerned about the behaviour of some of the teenagers and youths. We have made repeated calls, urging parents and guardians to closely monitor their children’s activities especially on the first Saturday after schools close for the term and the last Saturday of the holiday and any Saturday with prominent events like ZITF,” he said.
“However, we are concerned that parents don’t seem to be heeding our calls. As police we can report their children’s activities to schools and that will have an impact on their future. We want children to return to schools as children not as drunkards, adults or drug addicts.”
Insp Ncube said parents and guardians should ensure their children do not get out of control as they risk being abused or robbed.