IT looks like various measures taken by the police force in the recent past to combat crime, including armed banditry, have had no discernible deterrent effect on other bandits who mostly remain armed and free to commit more crimes.
Several incidents of armed banditry and robbery attempts have been reported in various parts of the country, although in most cases the suspects were killed or arrested and ammunition recovered.
In a recent incident in Dar es Salaam three suspected robbers were shot dead in exchange of gun fire with the police after a foiled attempt to steal money and a car from a businessman. We are told in this incident police recovered three deadly weapons with several rounds of ammunition.
This happened just two days after bandits assaulted armed policemen in Ruvuma Region and snatched from them two machine guns with 60 rounds of ammunition.
In yet another incident the same week, police in Kagera Region gunned down three bandits, including two who were armed with hand grenades and a sub-machine gun.
There have also been other unreported incidents across the country where armed bandits have been robbing private households at will.
While the police force’s special unit may deserve a pat on the back for what sounds like an impressive achievement so far, it is worrying to learn that criminals continue to wax strong on daily basis, and even police officers themselves are falling victims to the criminals. In this case it remains evident that we are far from winning the war.
We believe that the police special unit which is charged with crime detection, prevention and general maintenance of law and order has shown enough determination in most cases to do their jobs effectively. But we think more needs to be done in terms of crime prevention and control.
One wonders, for instance, how military weapons like automatic rifles can fall into civilian hands. Doesn’t this suggest that there could be collusion between our law enforcers and the bandits? Such are issues which call for thorough investigation.
It is also believed that in some places some of these bandits are well known to the police, but are being protected for reasons better known to the law enforcers.
Sometimes, to the public dismay, police do not get to the crime scene fast enough. But this could be because there are too few of them employed to serve large areas or lack of essential equipment, including vehicles.
The police need to make prevention more practical rather than using force after the crime has occurred. Crime detection must be regarded as an area of vital importance in the police force.
Given the fact that the number of available policemen is grossly inadequate, other security agencies and even civilians must extend support to the police force in combating crime. Improving police-civilian relations will help to create a more effective police force that can successfully contain the seemingly endless spate of armed banditry.