THE ugly pattern of armed robbery in strategic areas in Central Province is a pointer of an invasion by misfits who have fled the Copperbelt and Lusaka to pounce on unsuspecting business executives and other people in the usually serene region.
It is abundantly clear that criminals are traversing between Chisamba and Serenje through the Great North Road in pursuit of business executives, patrons in public places as well as many other people in transit who usually move with huge sums of money.
Barely 24 hours after a lone gunman was shot dead in Mkushi, four bandits hauled K60,000 cash from a family in Chisamba after stabbing the head of the house four times in the back before turning on his son whom they shot and wounded in the chest.
Last week, police gunned down a criminal who had been behind a spate of armed robberies in Kabwe for a long time.
It is strange that as law enforcement officers raise the tempo in tracking down criminals, the misfits have responded with corresponding force on innocent dwellers of this hitherto unruffled province.
We are aware that Central Province, particularly Chisamba and Mkushi, are agricultural belts that are inhabited by commercial farmers who not only contribute immensely to the country’s food basket, but also provide jobs for the local people.
It is thus unfair and devilish for criminals to set their full thrust on a segment of society that is working hard to contribute to the development agenda of the country.
The hard-working farmers and other entrepreneurs in all parts of the country need support and protection as they continue contributing to the country’s development process.
A close analysis will show that the bandits have recently been targeting areas where there are few police officers.
We urge the Zambia Police Service and other security agencies to fight violent crime from all angles using various strategies including community policing.
Community policing is one of the most effective strategies to combat crime because criminals can easily be identified by members in the community in which they are lurking.
Members of the community can provide vital information and act as bait for police officers to close in on rampaging criminals.
Secondly, law enforcement officers should increase their patrols not only in the innermost communities, but also on highways and other road links.
Neighbourhood watch and community security groups should be reorganised and scrutinised thoroughly to ensure they are effective.
An aggressive education campaign must be put in place in all areas about security while entrepreneurs must avoid accumulating large sums of money in their homes or operating areas. Money must be banked on a regular basis.
Since the pattern of robberies and other criminal activities are well documented, the police should devise many ways of clamping down on these misfits, who have the potential to scuttle the country’s developmental process.
All citizens must protect Zambia’s impressive record as an oasis of peace and political stability by coming together to root out criminal elements.
Certainly, the situation obtaining in some parts of Central Province needs cleaning up so that the region continues being the pride of the country in terms of agricultural production.
We strongly feel that criminals are coming from the Copperbelt and Lusaka to set up temporary base in Central Province. They have had it tough in the metropolitan areas where police officers have intensified patrols.
Police must use force where necessary, because if they did not, they will end up being hurt.
Already, a police officer who was shot and wounded in the neck in Mkushi on Saturday is lying in a critical condition in the University Teaching Hospital. Criminals must not be spared. OPINION