Thursday, 17 January 2019

LONG QUEUES AS SHUT DOWN ENDS

Government yesterday said the situation in the country has returned to normal after three days of violence instigated by the MDC Alliance and its allies in the non-governmental organisation sector.


Addressing a Press conference in Harare, Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said Government had put in place necessary safeguards to ensure people’s safety.

“As at today, 17 January 2019, there is peace, calm and normalcy across the country,” he said. “People were exercising their freedom of movement as there was increased vehicle and human traffic countrywide. Citizens were conducting their daily business without hindrance as there is maximum security in and around the country.

“The few people that remained holed up in their homes, and the few businesses that remained shut out of fear of the marauding demonstrators are encouraged to join the majority of our people since their security is guaranteed.”

Major retailers such as Pick n Pay, OK Zimbabwe, TV Sales and Hire, Innscor outlets, fuel service stations, among others, were all open for business.

Mr Mangwana urged parents to let their children attend school today, saying necessary measures had also been put in place to ensure the safety of both the parents and the teachers.

“Given the fear that was instilled in school authorities and parents when violent thugs attacked schools, most schools remained closed,” he said. “However, parents are urged to let their children attend school tomorrow as Government has put in place the necessary safeguards to ensure that the safety of children and our valuable teachers is guaranteed.

“The future of our nation cannot be disturbed any further.”
Mr Mangwana said the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) had arrested 700 hooligans charged with crimes ranging from arson, barricading roads, looting, violence and attempted murder.
Midlands province has the highest number of people arrested (196), a further 181 arrests were made in Harare, Bulawayo (104), Mashonaland West (86), Manicaland (80), Mashonaland East (21) and Mashonaland Central (16).

Masvingo, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North provinces had the least number of people arrested accounting for three, four and nine, respectively.

“The wheels of justice that have been set in motion are beginning to bear fruit with one of the violent protestors, Kelvin Nyambiswa, from Chivhu convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for public violence,” said Mr Mangwana.

One person in Bulawayo was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for disorderly conduct, while four others from Bindura were convicted and sentenced to six months in prison each for having been found in possession of prohibited weapons.

Mr Mangwana said several other cases were still at various stages in the courts and will be concluded soon.

He said the police arrested a number of opposition leaders and social movement leaders, who were being charged with inciting, organising and or participating in the violent demonstrations.

“These include MDC Alliance organising secretary, Amos Chibaya, MDC Alliance councillor for ward 42 in Harare, Elvis Ruzani, and MDC Alliance councillor for ward 10 in Ruda Mutasa rural district council, Manicaland, Frank Chitembwe, as well as #ThisFlag leader, Evan Mawarire,” said Mr Mangwana.

Speaking at the same occasion, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Cain Mathema warned individuals bent on causing chaos.

“Let me categorically make it clear that any attempt to disarm, attack law enforcers or overrun security establishments will be met with appropriate response,” he said. “The behaviour must stop forthwith as security forces will defend such institutions with vigour.”

Minister Mathema commended members of the security services for effecting arrests on criminal elements.

“We want to express appreciation to members of the public who have alerted the ZRP of criminals who have in their possession stolen property,” he said.
“We urge you to continue reporting about these greedy and callous individuals to your nearest police stations.”

In Bulawayo calm had returned in most of the city’s suburbs visited by The Chronicle news crew with people going about their normal business.

Hooligans, mostly marauding youths, were on a rampage between Monday and Wednesday as they demanded that everyone join them in their criminal activities.

They barricaded streets using drums, trolleys, stones and burning tyres.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and other civil society organisations aligned to the opposition MDC Alliance called for a three day stay away that triggered the violence.

In Entumbane, New Lobengula, Tshabalala, Nketa and Donnington West, the situation had normalised although traces and marks of violence were still visible in the form of remnants of burnt tyres strewn all over the streets, gutted down shops and shells of cars set on fire by protesters.

However, in some areas around Sekusile Business Centre, the situation by yesterday remained somewhat tense and anti-riot police and soldiers could be seen patrolling the area.
In the eastern suburbs such as Hillside and Morningside people could be seen moving around and some residents could be seen queueing for food at shopping centres.

Traffic lights and other road traffic signs were also extensively damaged by the protesters along several roads linking the western suburbs and the central business district.
Residents who spoke to The Chronicle condemned the violence and urged Government to bring the culprits to book.

“We are really saddened by acts of vandalism by thugs who were targeting shops and private properties. What happened is definitely affecting everyone, especially the looting and burning down of shops because it leaves us stranded.

“We call on authorities to deal decisively with perpetrators of violence,” said Mr Bernard Pitiel Sibanda of Tshabalala.

Another resident, Ms Ntombizodwa Ndlovu from Entumbane said: “Investigators must get to the bottom of this orgy of violence and we know that thugs took advantage of the situation to loot shops and burn property.”

A manager at a shop in Entumbane Shopping Mall, Mr Themba Samende said they lost stock worth $53 000 after a mob looted their shop on Monday.

“I saw a group of people who were armed with logs and machetes marching towards Entumbane Shopping Mall chanting songs and the next thing they started looting groceries and household property in several shops. They descended on our shop and looted boxes of cooking oil, sugar and other grocery items after which they smashed window panes and destroyed burglar bars before proceeding to other shops,” he said. Herald

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