POLICE Commissioner General Godwin Matanga says his office will not stand by and watch the continued attacks on police officers, warning that anyone attempting to disarm law enforcement agents on duty risks being shot.
Matanga sounded the ominous warning on New Year’s Day, after Constable Wonder Hokoyo was killed on December 28 in Kadoma by machete gangs while maintaining law and order.
Machete gangs have been on a rampage in mining sites around the country, with their actions said to be sponsored by certain government heavyweights and Members of Parliament.
The machete gangs, widely referred to as maShurugwi, are being reportedly used as conduits in a well-orchestrated web that allows their handlers to loot the country’s gold.
The death of Constable Hokoyo has, however, sprung police into action, with Matanga indicating that his office would ensure more police deployments in mining areas to preserve life and protect property.
“No one should interfere with or attack police officers who are maintaining law and order at mining sites,” Matanga said in a statement.
“Anyone who decides or attempts to disarm police officers on duty risks being shot,” he fumed.
Two suspects have so far been arrested by the police in connection with the murder of Hokoyo at Good Hope Mine in Battlefields.
The police are pursuing other suspects, currently said to be on the run, Matanga said.
The police boss said law enforcement agents were working with other stakeholders to ensure that occurrences of gold rush in several parts of the country are swiftly halted.
“Regulating authorities will be issuing out prohibition orders barring the carrying of machetes and other weapons such as knives, catapults, iron bars and knobkerries in of section 4 of the Maintenance of Peace and Order, Chapter 11:23,” Matanga said.
“This means that it is a criminal offense for anyone to be found in possession of the cited weapons, and police officers are expected to effect arrests for the law to take its course.”
Matanga said police had since engaged the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to ensure that all disused and decommissioned mines are monitored and measures put in place to curtail illegal mining activities.
Disused and decommissioned mines are at the centre of illegal artisanal mining as thousands of people risk life and limb to make a living amid as sick economy that is compounded by high unemployment and widespread poverty.
However, worryingly, some police officers deployed at mining sites have been accused of accepting bribes from artisanal miners to turn a blind eye on their activities.