POLICE in Bulawayo have deployed details to maintain peace and order at banks around the city among increasing discontent and sporadic outbreaks of violence as clients fail to withdraw their money because most indigenous banks are experiencing a cash shortage.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo said this proactive measure follows a stampede at Met Bank last week when depositors fought to withdraw their money and in the process broke a glass screen.
“We have deployed some police officers to the banks to ensure that there is order and safety of the people and safety of the bank itself,” said Moyo.
“Police officers must be everywhere, especially areas where we feel crimes could be committed.”
There were police officers clad in anti-riot gear outside the three troubled banks, Met Bank, Allied Band and the People’s Own Savings Bank monitoring the long-winding queues as clients jostled to withdraw cash ahead of Christmas.
These banks have been facing cash shortages for months with depositors struggling to make meaningful withdrawals, particularly during month ends.
“It is very disheartening that we have to struggle to get our money out of these banks as we have to queue from as early as 3am. The bank officials keep promising us that the money will soon be available, but to no avail and this is getting out of hand,” said a depositor queueing outside Allied Bank in the city.
“This financial crisis is taking us back to 2008 when the country was hit by a cash crisis. I am certain that is where we are headed to,” said a Met Bank depositor Abednego Mlalazi of Nketa.
Samuel Hadebe, who was queueing at POSB, said this crisis comes at a time when people need money for the festive season.
“It is well known that the festive season is that time of the year when people want to celebrate. How then do we celebrate without our money? This crisis has already defined the fate of this Christmas,” said Hadebe.
Chengetai Zembe, a disgruntled teacher at a city school, said as professionals, they have been reduced to nothing as they have to spend hours queueing for their money at Allied Bank.
“It’s month end for us and we want our money, but we have to queue for long hours to get the money.
“We went through the trauma of not getting our money from the government and now getting it from the bank. This is uncalled for and something must be done,” said an angry Zembe.