Opinion

Mashurugwi a terror group that started small but was ignored

By Takunda Mandura

Criminal gangs often start small and spread like veld fire. Both Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria and Joaquin Archivaldo Guzma`n Loera (El Chapo) started as small drug traffickers and ended up being international drug lords who caused havoc in Colombia, Mexico and other parts of the world.

Hardly a week would pass by without the media reporting about the Medellín Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel just like the Zimbabwean media has started to report about the violent machete gangs (Mashurugwi) who are terrorizing small scale miners and the mining communities.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo the machete-wielding gangs known as the Kulunas (Machete boys of Congo), have a reputation of being cruel outlaws who prowl the streets, steal from locals, extort money from businesses and fight each other.

The same way the Ivory Coast has got the phenomenon of microbes in which children under the age of 18, grouped into baby gangs that with machetes and knives assault, loot and kill.

Recently 14-year-old boy is among the machete gang which was arrested in connection with the murder of a policeman, Constable Wonder Hokoyo, who was hacked to death at Good Hope Mine in Battlefields recently.

Mexico, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast have one thing in common about the machete-wielding gangs, they are coming from a background of civil unrest in their countries.

Youth poverty and unemployment are fuelling criminality in Zimbabwe gold teeming districts, they are threatening government efforts to attract investors as they are terrorizing the citizens.

The name Mashurgwi became popular in Chiadzwa close to a decade ago when they terrorized magweja (makorokoza) illegal small scale miners who were in the diamond rush.

Mabhuru are the alpha leaders of the machete welding gangs and they claim to be paying some form of tribute to certain political figures who are powerful and untouchable.

The latest media report is of 50 machete-wielding gold panners who tried invade a police base in Gokwe intending to free their arrested colleagues, leading to a bloody confrontation with the law enforcement agents.

Recently a gang of nine robbers armed with an AK-47 rifle and a pistol besieged five homesteads in Fort Rixon area in Insiza District where they got away with money and cellphones from suspected gold dealers.

Last week people believed to be Mashurugwi gang-raped and killed an 80-year-old granny in Chegutu, relative (16) whilst seriously injuring three other people.

Recently Parliament announced that it was setting up a commission of inquiry to investigate the development and origins of Mashurugwi.

One wonders if Mashurugwi really needs an inquiry or they just need swift action to stop them from causing social unrest.

Collective combating the terror gangs would be the best way forward and communities can help through identifying the leaders of these gangs.

In what could be seen as being positive and a way of making a bold statement, the Zimbabwe Republic Police was given the order to shoot the gangs.

If not properly managed these machete-wielding gangs can sprout into dissidence.

For Zimbabwe to move forward and achieve any form of the desired peace or to maintain its status as a peace-loving nation there should be the total elimination of Mashurugwi through the Joint Operation Command.

Terror groups like Boko Haram, ISIS and Alshaab have all started small but because certain people turned a blind eye to them, they have become a big problem causing despondence in some parts of Africa.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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