SECURITY has been heightened in army barracks across the country in the wake of a spate of robberies involving soldiers as the military descends on “rogue” elements, amid reports that the assets of those implicated in robberies are being forfeited, The NewsHawks can report.
In most cases, vehicles of military personnel and civilians leaving cantonments are being thoroughly searched for weapons as the army battles to stop robberies.
Those leaving barracks with bags are also being subjected to a stop-and-search as the army remains on high alert.
Although searches have been standard procedure in army barracks, the recent spate of robberies by soldiers has resulted in intense security in cantonments.
“This has always been standard procedure in the army but with time there was laxity. Now those tasked with security are more vigilant as the military strives to improve discipline in its ranks and also account for rogue elements,” a source told The NewsHawks.
Intensified searches come at a time the army’s intelligence department is seized with the tracing of assets belonging to soldiers implicated in robberies.
This includes tracing and seizure of assets registered in names of children and wives of the rogue soldiers, suspected to have been ill-gotten.
One of the robbers implicated in the Hatfield robbery, Lameck Kabara, from the Zimbabwe National Defence College, who were arrested in December, has also lost a car, house, and other properties, according to insiders.
“Lameck’s properties were repossessed. After the arrest, the military went after him so that he could get military discipline. He, like other suspects, was also questioned on the robberies and accomplices and as you know the military interrogation is tough if not brutal,” said a security official.
Kabara lost properties that include assets in South Africa, a Mercedes-Benz vehicle, an Isuzu single cab truck and a house in Harare’s Zimre Park surburb.
Kabara and Christopher Charuma, who is with the Air Force of Zimbabwe based at Manyame Air Base, were arrested over the 24 December robbery and the murder of Elvis Chijaka. A third suspect, Perseverence Chihota, a civilian, was also arrested.
They had got away with US$40 000.
Police revealed Chijaka was shot dead after interrupting a robbery following a call from his sister who was inside the house. The two men wearing balaclavas and firing an AK47 rifle also wounded Brian Chijaka, who was admitted to Sally Mugabe Central Hospital.
The robbers drove off in a white Mercedes-Benz C200 Kompressor after ransacking the house and stealing US$40 000.
Investigators recovered 25 spent cartridges from an AK47 rifle. They used a service rifle to commit the offence.
Of late, there has been an upsurge in robberies involving members of the security forces, particularly the military and police.
In December, three suspected robbers identified as Brian Koga Tendere (38) of Chikupo Village in Murewa, Charles Chirara (30) of Ushewokunze, Harare, and Tariro Gora (21) of 1 Commando Barracks, were shot dead by former detective Joseph Nemaisa in a movie-style shootout in Harare’s Chadcombe suburb.
In January, two soldiers were sentenced to 40 years in prison for engaging in several robberies.
“The Zimbabwe National Army does not condone cases of indiscipline and misconduct and will continue to pass deterrent sentences on any would be offenders,” the army said in a statement.
The army also urged members of the public to report any unbecoming behaviour by soldiers.
Contacted for comment, army spokesperson Colonel Alphios Makotore said: ”I do not answer on the phone. The statement that we released is final. Use that.”