Local authorities in the border town of Plumtree have embarked on an intensive operation to rid the town and surrounding areas of bandits who waylay travellers along the Zimbabwe-Botswana border.
Confirming these developments, the town council vice-chairperson, councillor Paulos Hobane, said, “Since these thugs invaded our area, we have seen an increase in criminal activities and as authorities we could not sit and watch thugs turn our town into a criminal zone.”
Locally known as ‘omagumaguma’, the bandits are a highly organised crime syndicate involved in robbing travellers as well as facilitating illegal entry for border jumpers into neighbouring Botswana. Women have proved to be an easy target for the bandits with some women being gang-raped in the past.
Reports from Botswana also suggest that these same bandits are inextricably linked to the spate of livestock theft that has rocked the outlying villages of Tshesebe, located close to the Zimbabwe border.
Although Hobane refused to say how many of the bandits had been netted since the beginning of the offensive earlier this month, it is understood that residents have been actively participating in helping the authorities. Hobane revealed that the council had embarked on door to door searches of houses in the border town to ascertain the number of inhabitants living in a given house. This, he pointed out, was relatively easy to do as the town had a small population and was easy to keep an eye on suspicious newcomers into the town.
“All the councillors know their residents, so when we get to a house and find new faces, the owner would be compelled to explain. The other thing that makes the operation easy to conduct is that ‘omagumaguma’ are lush spenders and we take note of such people.”
It is hoped that this operation will go a long way into making the border town safe, as well as quelling the tensions between Plumtree residents and those in Botswana who have raised concern over the criminal activities spilling over to their side.