Machete wielding gangs, who were notorious for abusing people living in mining towns, have discovered a new haven. They are now targeting tobacco merchants at the country’s auction floors, in Harare.
The robbers are so daring that this past week, a safeguard security officer was severely assaulted and stabbed while trying to save a farmer whom they had attacked. The situation is being worsened by the absence of police during the night when farmers are left to protect themselves in open shelters, with some sleeping along the railway lines in Lochinvar, a suburb in Harare’s south-western area.
ZTN spoke to victims and some farmers who witnessed the robberies and they said all they want is more police presence to guarantee their safety.
“We are sleeping in the open and we are vulnerable to these robbers. They are very aggressive and recently they attacked a security guard who was trying to assist another farmer under attack,” said a farmer only identified as Fidelis from Centenary.
Another female farmer said she was blocked by a car on her way from the auction floors and a male occupant grabbed her by the neck. She was chocked until she released her handbag containing all her valuables and money.
When contacted for comment Harare police spokesperson Inspector Tendai Mwanza said farmers should avoid travelling at night as it exposes them to criminals.
“We encourage all tobacco farmers to report all robbery cases to the police but more importantly they must avoid travelling at night as they can easily fall prey to these robbers.”