Nearly 19 000 cases of robbery and over 3 500 murders were recorded in Zimbabwe between January 2020 and December 2021, official statistics show. Data obtained from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) shows there were 9 364 cases of robbery (931 armed) in 2020, while 9 515 similar cases (1 120 armed) were recorded the following year. This translates to an average of 25 cases of robbery occurring daily. Police also handled 917 cases of illegal firearms possession over the same period, with 472 cases being recorded in 2020, while there were 445 the following year. In addition, there were 1 614 murder cases reported in 2020, a figure that rose sharply to 1 969 in the following year, official data shows.
Zimbabwe has recorded an upsurge in violent crimes in recent years, prompting police to set up a specialised taskforce to deal with rising violent criminal activity. In August, President Mnangagwa decreed a firearms amnesty granting clemency for voluntary surrender of unregistered firearms and ammunition to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) by September 30. Police recovered 538 unregistered firearms and 260 rounds of ammunition during the two-month window. It was believed that the firearms were being used to commit violent crimes, including armed robbery. Authorities are now conducting physical checks at residential and business premises where illegal firearms are suspected to be kept or hidden.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police set up a specialised taskforce to spearhead the fight against violent “The numbers could have been higher,” he said in an interview. “But our police and the taskforce crack teams set up to decisively deal with armed robbers played a big role in containing most of the robbery cases in the country. “The Zimbabwe Republic Police has made it clear that those who commit crimes will be arrested. Police crack teams are on full alert and will deal decisively with criminal elements.” Zimstat figures also show that 16 092 cases of rape were reported during the period under review, with 7 377 reported cases in 2020 and an additional 8 715 the following year.
Surprisingly, only 42 cases of drunken driving were recorded countrywide over the two-year period, exposing gaps in local traffic law enforcement. Over the same period, only 39 people were arrested for breathalyser offenses, with all the cases being reported in December 2021. According to Zimstat figures, a total of 2 008 people were arrested for driving without a valid licence during the two years to December 2021. Additionally, 486 people were nabbed for possession of dangerous drugs, while 629 others were arrested for bribery and corruption.
Crime and forensic investigations expert Mr Antony Mbewe said the high number of crimes detected by police could be a result of better policing and investigation. “It could mean that the police are now more resourced to deal with criminals in the country and are arresting more people, or that there is laxity on the part of the public to secure their property,” he said. He said the country had generally low crime rates in the past, but rapid technological evolution means criminals are more sophisticated. “To deal with armed robberies there is a need to appoint a national public prosecutor responsible for dealing with robberies, there is a need for stiffer penalties as well.”