Sunday 14 May 2023


Police are on high alert as criminals and bogus cops rob tobacco farmers at gunpoint as they move their bales at night, or steal, pick-pocket and commit fraud when the farmers are at the auction floors, especially in Harare.

The farmers have also been urged to be wary of organised criminals who take advantage of the increased human and vehicular traffic at the auction floors during the selling season to commit offences, in addition to duping them.

The police have been receiving reports of tobacco farmers being robbed at gunpoint on their way to auction floors during the night and early morning. There has also been a marginal increase in armed robbery, fraud cases involving card cloning, mobile cash transactions, forgery, theft from cars and pick-pocketing.

Farmers are also advised not to entertain strangers and to safeguard their produce, as well as proceeds from sales. Over the past few years, farmers have lost tobacco worth thousands of dollars after being robbed of their crop in transit to the auction floors or duped by con-artists. Other farmers are waylaid by criminals who steal their hard-earned cash, goods and valuables while others are being targeted by bogus security agents. Last Friday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they were concerned about such cases. “We have realised that some criminals are waylaying tobacco farmers when they will be on their way to the auction floors,” he said. “Most of the criminals waylay them at controlled traffic intersections and junctions to rob them.

“Some criminals are also masquerading as members of the security services targeting these farmers. We have, however, put adequate security measures to curb these cases.”

Farmers have also been warned against using unroadworthy vehicles as some were being robbed when these cars develop mechanical faults. This week, police in Harare arrested one of the criminals and recovered 15 tobacco bales.

In July 2021, four armed robbers intercepted a truck loaded with 120 bales of tobacco destined for auction floors in Marondera and stole 50 of them before disappearing.

The incident occurred near Two Boy area in Village 17, Marondera. In March 2019, a farmer lost two tobacco bales to three armed robbers after an Isuzu truck they were travelling in was blocked by an unregistered Toyota Noah at about 2am while the farmer was on his way to Tobacco Sales Floor with three others in a Mazda Bongo with 14 tobacco bales from Karoi at around 3am. Herald


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