MATABELELAND South police have expressed concern over the rise in crime in the province and appealed to local councillors and community leaders to join them in fighting the scourge.
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele told a Gwanda Rural District Council meeting in Gwanda town on Friday that cases of rape, assault, robbery, stocktheft and murder were increasing out of control.
“We cannot fight crime alone, but if we join hands together with councillors and other community leaders that would help us curb crime within communities as we would be having people on the ground providing us with information,” he said.
Ndebele told the councillors and community leaders to urge people to watch over their cattle to help reduce cases of stocktheft.
He also asked them to encourage livestock owners to brand their beasts to minimise chances of them being stolen.
Plumtree topped in the province in reported murder cases and Ndebele said residents should be encouraged not to move around with dangerous weapons such as knives as they could be easily used during a fight when one is being overpowered.
“Please councillors, help us by discouraging people in your communities from moving around with knives in their pockets or carrying other dangerous weapons as they end up injuring other people leading to murder at times,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Victim Friendly Unit provincial co-ordinator Inspector Dorcas Ngwenya said rape and domestic violence cases were escalating in the province.
“According to our statistics, most victims of rape are women and girls and these mainly occur at homes, schools, churches and deserted bushy areas,” she said.
Ngwenya said the chief perpetrators of rape turned out to be relatives, particularly uncles and step fathers as well as brothers and even biological fathers in some instances.
“From January 1 to January 31 this year, we have received one case of a father who allegedly raped his two-year-old daughter and today (last Friday) we received a case of a three-year-old who was allegedly raped by her uncle,” she said.
“We have even received cases of a brother raping a sister and an uncle raping a niece.
“Some cases involve neighbours, pastors, prophets and teachers.
“As police, we are saying people should not leave children in the custody of male relatives or strangers,” Ngwenya said.
“We also encourage that children of the opposite sex do not share the same bedroom and that they are not exposed to pornographic material.”
She said what was shocking were rising statistics showing that children aged between 13 and 15 years rape other children mainly because they shared the same bedroom.
“We hope you as councillors will help spread our message in your communities,” Ngwenya said.
“You must also encourage parents to accompany their children to school or ensure that children move in groups when going to school as some perpetrators tend to waylay children.
“Let’s work together to curb crime in our province and always encourage people to look out and educate them to help fight crime as communities.”