Police introduce 24-hour patrols on Lake Kariba
Agriculture Specialist Writer
POLICE in Binga has launched a 24-hour patrol programme on Lake Kariba’s Sengwa Basin 3 to contain escalating armed robbery cases in which marauding gangs of armed men have been robbing fishermen of their kapenta catches and personal belongings every night over the last two months.
Matabeleland North Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda revealed this in a statement yesterday while giving an update on the robbery reports from affected fishermen.
“We confirm receipt of armed robbery complaints from some kapenta fisheries and disclose that investigations are in progress. A joint reaction team of security agents is patrolling the troubled areas. However, we cannot disclose much at the moment, lest we jeopardise our inquiries,” he said.
Kapenta fishing on Lake Kariba is done in 23 days per month with the remaining seven days considered as full moon during which no fishing is allowed.
According Binga Fisheries Association (BFA) secretary, Mr Phillimon Mutale, last month some of their members were raided by a group of seven men – two of whom were armed with guns. The robbers took away both fresh and dry kapenta from the rigs before disappearing into the night.
The same group of seven was at it again on Monday night last week and pounced on 12 boats grabbing fresh and dry kapenta, rack nets, phones, fuel, salt, tools, drying plastic papers, welding machines, empty bags, clothes and food. They used speed boats to carry the loot. The fishermen have since reported all the cases to the police and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), he said.
A source close to the investigations said security agents were now patrolling the waters and islands where they think the wet kapenta was being dried on a daily basis.
“We are yet to get feedback on the investigations and hope the culprits will be caught to bring closure to these disturbing cases,” he said.
The group, however, struck again on Saturday night and grabbed everything anything they found on the rigs before beating up the fishermen.
One fisheries director, Mr Nkululeko Dhlamin, had five of his rigs ransacked by the group and lost everything that was in the rigs.
Mr Dhlamin believes the recovery of all the stolen items will enable them to pay their kapenta fishing permits that are renewed annually.
ZimParks require US$1 200 or its local currency equivalent as kapenta fishing permits for each rig per year.
The Parks and Wildlife Act (Chapter 20:14 of 1996, as amended) is the main legislation governing the development, control and management of fisheries in Zimbabwe. The Act recognises the public character of the fisheries resources and the responsibility of the State to provide for their proper management.