At Empress Mine, a ZANU-PF militia captures whole police camp
A gold mining and dealing ragtag militia outfit called Mukwade which operates in Zhombe, Midlands province, has the entire nearby Empress police post in its pocket and does as it pleases without any fear of arrest whatsoever.
Several members-in-charge at the Empress Police outpost have been transferred over the years for involving themselves in the gang wars and making rich pickings from illegal gold dealings, involved militias readily confessed.
At Empress, a new member-in-charge is quickly “initiated” into the locally dominant Mukwade gang through a named local female businesswoman who is reported to lure the police heads into love affairs first.
A few cases of grievous bodily harm go to court, but, according to sources, they are often dismissed for “lack of evidence” while the police reportedly suppress reports of murder.
The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) that operates from the Midlands mining town of Kwekwe, which also happens to be Mnangagwa’s hometown, fears that the violence may be hard to manage.
“As a country, we are nursing a problem that will be very difficult to contain. Already we have so many victims, including deaths due to machete attacks,” said Obert Chinhamo, the ACT-SA director.
Locals at Empress accused respective police station heads of being driven in vehicles owned by members of the Mukwade militias.
ACT-SA made similar allegations, saying that “the rank and file of the police receives bribes in order to turn a blind eye to the violence cases”.
The police openly admitted their helplessness — and fear too — as they implicitly blamed ruling Zanu PF politicians who have become the godfathers of most of the militias.
“I am not at liberty to comment on those issues (gang violence) due to their political nature,” said Midlands police spokesperson, Inspector Joel Goko.
Another well-known militiaman identified as Alexander Hwami is said to kill at the slightest provocation.
Villagers at surrounding places at Sidakeni shops and Empress Mine shops reported that Hwami often boasts that money protects perpetrators of violence.
“He moves around threatening people and telling us that the distance between a murderer’s freedom and jail is only a thousand American dollars. He says that money is enough to ensure no action is taken against him and others,” said one source, a man in his 40s who claimed he was a former gangster.
Victims of the armed violence often seek help from hospitals without the required requests for police report that are supposed to be issued by the police who refuse to issue the documents so as to avoid opening dockets, a senior nurse at Kwekwe Central Hospital said.
“A person with a gushing wound can just come here and say I was hit by machetes but the police will refuse to take my report or issue me with a police report for treatment. We end up just treating the people to save lives,” she said.
Another nurse revealed that they get threats for treating machete violence patients from the perpetrators.
Authorities at the hospital referred questions to the Midlands provincial medical director, Solomon Nyamutumbu, who however, said he was not aware of the threats or the claims that patients were being attended to without the mandatory requests for treatment. — Adapted from the Standard