ESIGODINI residents are appealing for intervention by police and other relevant peace keepers following attacks by rowdy and violent ‘amakorokoza’ gangs.
The gang walks freely in the community, armed with axes, machetes, knives and stones.
The scared and worried residents told B-Metro they were having sleepless nights because of escalating violence in their community.
Three people were seriously injured on Sunday at around 5pm at Irisvale Business Centre, when a ten member gang ran amok attacking anyone in sight at the centre.
Residents said they were begging for quick installation of a permanent police base with a patrol team which even includes soldiers because the violence perpetrators have become so daring that they fear no-one and do not value human lives.
Matabeleland South Crime and Operations Officer, Assistant Commissioner Ali Hondo said:
“We are aware of the violence activities and one suspect has been arrested and is helping police with investigations.
“We strongly urge members of the public to report cases of violence as soon as they arise so that we make arrests as soon as possible. We will be grateful if residents assist us to track down the violence perpetrators as our mandate is to ensure there’s peace and sanity in the communities.”
A local businessman, Party Zuka was seriously injured during the recent scuffle while he tried to stop the fights.
“A gang of about five men turned on me, attacking me with knives, axes and stones. I am not sure what hit me in the head but I sustained a deep cut and had eight stitches done on the wound. I am lucky to be alive.
“When I heard some noise outside my shop, I stepped outside with an intention to stop the violence. Instead they turned on me, accusing me of selling out their gang member. They accused me of getting their ring leader, ‘Nyoka’ arrested. Nyoka was arrested about four days ago for alleged theft at one of the shops at the business centre,” he said.
The man who has run businesses at that place since 1996, said life had become unbearable with business dying as residents fear walking on the roads.
“Business has completely died at the business centre as residents are scared to walk to the shops even in broad daylight. The youths generally attack anyone in sight, as long as they don’t belong to their gang,” said Zuka.
Ward 13 councillor, Jabulani Makhala said the youths have totally lost morals and respect because they attacked Zuka right in front of him.
“It is sad to note that people have become grounded and are living in misery at the expense of the selfish ones. After selling the precious stones earned from the mineshafts in the area, they come to spend their quick earned cash on alcohol and dagga and once they are high, violence erupts.
“My own family members were injured around the festive season. As one of Esigodini community leaders, I become short of words on how best to express the terrible, bloody scenarios happening except that we are appeal for immediate intervention by the law enforcers. Something drastic should be done to bring sanity and these culprits need to be thrown into jail before more lives are lost unnecessarily,” he said.
Residents said they suspected some of these wars that were being brought to the innocent community emanated from gold wars.
A source who preferred anonymity said: “Some of these gangs are bringing their grudges from the bushes, gold wars, to us who have nothing to do with them. The Sunday scuffle, was triggered by the arrest of the panners’ ring leader.
“Gangs are now running the streets. Gunshots can be fired anytime. These gangs do not fear or respect anyone. No one is safe and we appeal to the police to do something,” said a resident.
In September, an Esigodini gold baron shot a man who was part of a nine-man gang armed with axes, machetes, spears and knives that allegedly attempted to attack him.
During that same month, police officers allegedly fled and left behind a cuffed suspect at Habane Business Centre in Esigodini after they were attacked by an armed gang of suspected gold panners.
Residents said police officers had to seek refuge in some shops while running away from the illegal miners’ gang infamously known as ‘oNkayi’ — name derived from their place of origin Nkayi in Matabeleland North.
The gang allegedly damaged a police vehicle and deflated its tyres with Okapi knives.
In November 2016, an alleged ringleader of one of the gangs of gold panners was hospitalised after his right foot was chopped off in a gang fight over a mining claim in Filabusi.