Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
GWANDA residents have called for heavy police presence as some gold panners operating in the area have been terrorising members of the public.
Speaking recently during a Gwanda Local Peace Committee (LPC) meeting, Ward Five councillor, Mr Ernest Ncube, said the rowdy gold panners who were sometimes armed with machetes were a menace to residents from his area.
He said the gang was destroying property, fighting in public and threatening residents.
“We have a serious problem in Ward Five. There are two business centres namely Njanji Shopping Centre and Red Cross Business Centre which have become hotspots.
“At Njanji Shopping Centre there is a nightclub where gangs comprising mostly gold panners gather. When the nightclub closes at 4AM these gangs regroup and start gambling outside.
“Their gambling results in altercations and these fights move to residential areas and in the process people are affected. Their property is destroyed and all of these violent activities have left residents unsettled as they fear for their lives,” he said.
Mr Ncube said in the morning the gangs who will be armed with machetes move to Red Cross Business Centre where the fighting continues. He said the business centre houses shops and the gangs usually harass residents there.
“During the day these gangs terrorise people at Red Cross Business Centre. They threaten and insult people. During their fights they hurl insults at one another in the full view of young children.
“They damage windows at people’s homes and throw stones on roof tops. At night they go back to Njanji Business Centre and this has almost become a daily cycle.
“Residents are living in fear and they are tired of being harassed. They are calling for heavy police presence and a police post in the area as the ward has become a war zone. These gang members come and rent houses in the area while others use houses that are still under construction,” he said.
Also speaking during the same meeting National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Matabeleland South Provincial Peace Committee deputy chairperson who is also the secretariat of the Gwanda Local Peace Committee, Pastor Phathisiwe Dube said the local peace committee was seized with the matter to ensure the problem was resolved. She said they had engaged the police to ensure that a police base was opened to increase police visibility.
She said members of the business community operating in Ward Five raised concern as their property was being vandalised by the gangs.
“We held a meeting with Ward Five residents and they complained that some of these gambling and public drinking activities are taking place in the presence of the police and the culprits are not being arrested. As a committee we have engaged ZRP so that a police base is opened in the area and there is effective policing to ensure that members of the public are safe,” she said. – @DubeMatutu