BY DR MASIMBA MAVAZA | Armed robbery is one of the most unpopular and traumatising crimes in contemporary Zimbabwe society. It has to do with the unlawful utilization of any form of arms to forcefully deprive innocent people of their legitimate possessions; it is therefore a crime against the Zimbabwean citizens. If not dealt with sternly armed robbers have the potential of overthrowing the government.
Armed robbery is a serious crime and can permanently traumatize its victims, both physically and psychologically. It tends to receive considerable media attention when it occurs, and it carries longer prison terms than other forms of robbery such as simple robbery (i.e., theft without a dangerous weapon). Armed robbery is typically motivated by the desire to obtain money.
Whatever the motivation, the act is classified as a violent crime, because armed robberies can result in injury and sometimes death to victims.
Armed robbers are disproportionately young males who are clearly opportunistic in their selection of easy targets. Armed robbery may occur on the street—where unsuspecting individuals are held up at gunpoint—or in a commercial establishment such as a convenience store or a bank.
Armed robbery has continued to permeate the society despite every concerted effort made by both the people and the state to combat it. Thus, this social milieu poses serious security and development challenges to the state and the society at large. That, until certain drastic measures were taken, armed robbery and perhaps other social vices will continue to permeate the society. Such steps include provision of adequate social infrastructures, equitable distribution of resources among the citizens, supporting good governance, creation of more jobs and poverty eradication among many others above being very tough on armed robbers.
In the past year there has been a steady but alarming increase of serious crime in Bulawayo, and Harare ranging from house breaking, theft by criminals armed with dangerous weapons to those armed with firearms.
There are several reported cases of a women being molested raped or killed.
The prevalence of armed robbery in Zimbabwe is fast becoming an epidemic. It is being blamed on the dwindling economic fortunes of majority and the widening gap between the affluent and the poor in our society leading to violent crimes especially armed robbery. In Zimbabwe at present, no place is safe from the ravages of the armed robbers. They attack homes, offices, shops, restaurants and churches to rob, rape, maim and kill. They operate at the banks with dynamites, strike at filling stations and swoop on victims at traffic jams. The security situation in Zimbabwe today is so appalling that armed robbers operate on a daily basis, leaving sorrow, tears and blood in their trail. Armed robbers no longer operate only at night they also operate brazenly in broad daylight. Brigandage has become the order of the day. The robbers operate in large numbers sometimes as much as 20 persons with sophisticated arms and accessories that will facilitate their operation like gas cylinders, wielding tools, hammer, powerful beam lights and explosives for blowing up safes. The robbers have expanded their armory to the use of biological materials including powder which they blow to hypnotize and make their victims and security agents who might threaten them go to sleep while they carry out their operations.
Travellers on the highway are equally unsafe. Commuter commercial luxury buses especially in the night are hijacked, taken to the bush, and the passengers robbed, raped and the bus burnt in some cases. Many have lost their lives and property worth millions of dollars has been stolen. Homes of the big and small have been invaded; even embassies have not been spared. Prominent Zimbabweans have been murdered in cold blood.
This situation coupled with some other inadequacies has earned the country several unsavory descriptions.
Zimbabwe will soon be called a country in “descent into the dark,” a “country beset with insecurity across the land,” and a “failed state.
Violent crime committed by individual criminals and gangs, as well as by some persons wearing police and military uniforms, is a problem throughout the country, especially at night. Home invasions remain a serious threat, with armed robbers accessing even guarded compounds by scaling perimeter walls; following, or tailgating, residents or visitors arriving by car into the compound; subduing guards and gaining entry into homes or apartments. Law enforcement authorities usually respond swiftly but they do not have resources.
It should be seriously noted that this widespread occurrence of armed robbery and kidnapping in Zimbabwe, has the potential to destabilize the peace and security of the Zimbabwean people; upset economic activities, discourage both foreigners and indigenes from investing; disrupt industry and economic development and progress, and lead to greater unemployment, and in general, to the restriction of governance. The above security situation should bother any serious minded government. This scenario must highlight security as one of our top priorities in this administration’s priority.
There is no amount of poverty which justifies robbery. It should be noted that an unfriendly security climate precludes both external and internal investment into the nation.
The government must focus on the offence of armed robbery as it affects the security of the nation Zimbabwe.
The trauma of criminals pauncing in the dead of the night must be excrutiating to agonised individuals and families. These are innocent families making an honest living.
If strong action is not taken the whole country will be overrun by these armed criminals.
In these times of peace the army special tactics team must be deployed to track and eliminate the robbers.
Surely No amount of poverty can justify criminality, let alone robbery. In fact, clearly it is evident that this robbery, as any, is motivated by greed.
Items stolen range from money to laptops televisions and any electric gadgets.
It is believed that a considerable number of the robbers are descending from South Africa, Zimbabweans illegal immigrants in that country cross back to Zimbabwe armed with guns. These are the same mulcontents whose abhorrent criminality is causing problems and the hate of Zimbabweans in that country.
There are some who are in zimbabwe who run this cruel business of armed robbery from within the country.
Crime has a multiplicity of dynamics. These include the impact on the individual, on the community and on productivity.
Criminality is a phenomenon that is escalatory. It starts as low-level misdemeanours by little louts, developing into a full-fledged criminal enterprise. Its escalatory nature reaches alarming scale when it translates into national security threats. How does this happen?
From each escalatory stage, crime strengths the callousness and audacity of criminals. By the same measure it destroys the confidence of the communities while creating lawlessness and communities of chaos.
Criminality is an infectous malady and spreads as fast as wildfire. Criminality is a serious challenge to investment, job creation and economic recovery. This is particularly so with armed robbery. No sane people would like to invest in a criminal infested nation. Businesses will close down for security reasons.
The presence of marauding criminals in any community is not just a neighbouhood pain, it is a direct challenge to state authority. This makes of a dangerous threat to the stability and sovereignty of s nation.
Cities may not be the only areas affected but it does seem to be suffering the brunt of armed robbers. This situation needs to be addressed now and ruthlessly so. The police Homicide section must be empowered and financed. They must be given powers to neutralise the threat wherever it is.
We cannot afford a situation of lawlessness where illegal guns rule. We have to act for innocent people who are suffering now. By acting now and rooting out all forms of crime, particularly armed criminality, we will avert a grave distabilisation and national security threat that is fast brewing.
We may be resource constrained now but we have to throw everything, otherwise we will have to tackle 500 plus dangerously armed criminals hitting everything from citizens to government installations.
These criminals are certainly using people’s houses as training ground and rehersals for an eventual state challenge. As stated above, there is always a natural progression of criminality from petty crime to national security threat. This progression is before our very own eyes.
Lets not forget that Armed robbery, simply refers to a process that involve forcefully deprivation of some innocent individuals of their lawful belongings by an armed individual or group of individuals without recourse to the law. This act in itself is an infringement on the fundamental human rights of the victim and the criminal law which attracts serious sanctions. It is one of the rising features of crime in the country today. The perpetual occurrence of it despites official proscription is mindboggling. This calls for serious concern of the authorities and other stake holders in peace and security management. Victims of armed robbery usually suffer certain tremendous negative social and economic consequences.
Armed robbery is now common in every part of the country although it is more prevalent in Bulawayo and Harare than any other part of the country. Every class of people is a potential target even though the highly placed in the society are more vulnerable. The problem has successfully imposed a culture and atmosphere of fear, mistrust, and violence in the country.
Like many other crimes in Zimbabwe armed robbery has not been given the desired attention by government yet it is a national security threat. For decades now, law abiding Zimbabweans have continuously suffered in the hands of armed bandits. However, the malicious impact of persistent occurrences of armed robbery on national security and development constitute serious challenges.
Armed robbery is a social menace that persistently continues to retard the development of the Zimbabwean society. armed robbery is associated with insecurity of lives and properties, loss of human resources, reduction of the level of development, unemployment, poverty, permanent disability on the victims and wastage of state resources on security agents. It is recommended that government should increase the number of well-trained police and provide them with modern equipment. More so, all Zimbabweans should volunteer information that could lead to the arrest of suspected armed robbers to the police.
Armed robbery is a social problem that continued to undermine the progress of society.
Armed robbery is thus a determinant of social factors such as social mobility, culture conflict, economic competition, social stratification as well as the distribution of wealth in the society.
Whatever may be the cause of armed robbery and whatever nature or form or shape it may assume armed robbery is antisocial behaviour that leaves negative effects on the society and its members. A single crime, may alter the existence of a particular family and as families become weak and filled with tension and chaos, society is injured and social life is threatened.
One of the enormous effects of armed robbery is that of insecurity of lives and properties. In various robbery incidences, innocents’ citizens are killed, maimed to suffer while one’s livelong savings and sweat are lost within a twinkle of an eye.
A successful robbery entails the direct loss of property on an individual. Such property is transferred from the rightful owner to another Person. Most violent crime also leads to the loss of productivity through the incapacity of the victims. Most of the victims of violent crimes are incapacitated, thereby denying the society of their contribution to the output of the nation.
Another significant effect of armed robbery is on the reduction of the rate or level of development. As a result of high prevalence incidences of armed robbery People are always in a perpetual state of fear because of constant robbery attacks. Thus, many foreign investors are afraid of committing their resources to operate in industries that would have employed many millions of the unemployed Zimbabweans. This consequently retards the development of the society.
In addition, armed robbery causes unemployment because robbing of industries and other government establishments (companies) results to retrenchment of workers because of the inability to pay workers salary.
Armed robbery increases the level of poverty. For instance, in a situation where armed robbers killed the breadwinner of the family. The robbers will subject the whole family into poverty (absolute poverty) and thus increase the level of poverty in the society.
There is also the social cost dimension. People no longer go out at specific periods to interact and carry out social activities/functions. Every body becomes suspicious of one another. In a society where everyone is suspicious of each other, where movement is restricted for the fear of criminal victimization, there can be no meaningful development and progress. there is also a physical cost dimension to incidences of violent crimes. Robbery and kidnap could result to death or permanent disability of the victim.
It is clear that armed robbery is hazardous and holds many negative effects on individuals, families and the society as a whole. There is an agent need for the government to take a decisive step to tackle the problem of armed robbery and other related criminal activities across the country.
To the criminals, do not under estimate Zimbabwe. Your days are numbered.