Embrace neighbourhood watch patrols, police urge communities

10 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Embrace neighbourhood watch patrols, police urge communities Last week robbers broke into St Gerard’s Catholic Parish in Borrowdale and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Suburban

Jeremiah Mudonha Suburban Correspondent

HARARE provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Julius Chakanza has urged communities in the city to establish and strengthen neighbourhood watch patrols in response to a surge in robbery cases within Harare’s suburbs.

The call comes in the wake of two recent armed robberies in Mt Pleasant and Borrowdale in which robbers got away with a total of US$15 800 cash and cellphones.

He said the Zimbabwe Republic Police has observed a steady increase in robberies with an average of one armed robbery occurring per night in each major suburb, particularly in low-density areas.

“In response, we have doubled our deployments and implemented necessary measures to address the situation.

“We have also established the Harare Operations Line at 0242 748836 for easy communication,” said Insp Chakanza.

He stressed the importance of organising neighbourhood watch patrols as a means to increase vigilance and safeguard neighbourhoods.

Insp Chakanza said the patrols are community-based initiatives where residents voluntarily organise themselves to keep a watchful eye on their surroundings, identify and report suspicious activities and collaborate with law enforcement agencies to deter crime.

He said recent incidents have brought to light the urgent need for increased community engagement.

Insp Chakanza said last Friday, two armed robbery incidents occurred in Mt Pleasant and Borrowdale, causing concern among residents.

“In the Mt Pleasant incident, Misheck Mapfeka (34) and his wife, Zvikomborero Zengeni were targeted as they returned home around 7.20 p.m.

“The armed robbers gained access to their yard by scaling over the precast wall.

“Wearing masks and armed with pistols, they forcibly took the victims to the living room, demanding compliance.

“The robbers stole Zvikomborero Zengeni’s Samsung A53 cellphone.

“Other family members present in the house were also instructed to comply with the robbers’ demands,” he said.

Insp Chakanza said two of the robbers stood guard on the occupants of the house while the others looted the house.

“During the robbery, the victims were covered with blankets while two robbers stood guard. The other two robbers ransacked the bedroom, taking $800 in cash from a jacket. Mapfeka was coerced into surrendering the keys to their safe, resulting in the thieves stealing $10 000 before fleeing the scene.”

He said the second incident occurred in Borrowdale on the same day around the same time.

“Caoyi, a 25-year-old Chinese national was having dinner with his family when four individuals wearing black masks and carrying pistols entered the premises.

“The private security guard, Prince Nyamudambu (26) was assaulted and bound with a rope.

“While one robber guarded the security guard, the others entered the house through an unlocked lounge door.

“The victims were then ordered to the ground, their hands tied with twine ropes.

“The assailants demanded cash and inflicted head injuries on the complainant as well as another family member, Xu Deshu.

“Caoyi was forced to lead one of the robbers to an upstairs room, where he surrendered $5 000 from a suitcase.

“The robbers proceeded to ransack the room, stealing a Vivo cellphone, GPS electronic machine and a compass,” said Insp Chakanza.

He said during the ordeal, the security guard managed to free himself and escaped towards the back cottage.

“In response, one of the robbers fired a single round before the remaining robbers fled the premises.

“The complainant sustained bruises on his hands, while Xu Deshu suffered a deep cut on the forehead,” said Insp Chakanza.

These incidents, confirmed by Insp Chakanza highlight the urgent necessity of establishing neighbourhood watch patrols to enhance community safety and prevent further robberies.

By actively participating in these patrols, residents can contribute to local security efforts and work hand in hand with the police to create safer neighbourhoods.

The robbers have also been targeting churches and schools of late. Last week, St Gerard’s Catholic Church in Borrowdale lost an undisclosed amount of cash to robbers who raided the church in the early hours of Friday. The robbers blew the safe and stole cash being kept in the safe before banking.

In a statement Rector and Parish Priest Father Mark Chikuni said the robbers invaded the church promises and broke into the parish office, blowing safes and taking the cash.

On Tuesday morning this week, a gang of six armed robbers raided Warren Park Primary School as parents were paying school fees on the opening day of the second school term and stole US$1 400 cash.

“Police are investigating a case of robbery which occurred at Warren Park Primary School this morning when six armed robbers raided the school as parents were paying their school fees. The suspects went away with US$1 481 cash. Investigations are in progress,” police posted on their official X handle.

Police have been urging school authorities to increase security and be alert as parents pay school fees and where possible parents are encouraged to pay their fees through banks to curb armed robbery cases.

Schools have also been urging parents to pay their fees through banks so that the schools do not have to handle large sums of cash, exposing them to possible robberies.

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