BY BRENNA MATENDERE/stephen chadenga

MACHETE violence cases being perpetrated by artisanal miners in the country are not happening randomly, but are premediated and organised, High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese has said.

Officially opening the 2020 legal year in Gweru yesterday, Justice Makonese also warned that the perpetrators of the machete wars have gone too far and were extraordinarily daring, while common criminals were now adopting their modus operandi.

“Machete attacks are not always random. Some attacks are well-organised, well-executed and premeditated by rogue elements in our society. While these attacks are prominent among artisanal and small-scale miners, ordinary criminals have now adopted similar style and tactics and use brute force to rob, injure and kill innocent civilians,” he said.

“During the year under review, there has been an upsurge in cases of violent crimes committed by marauding gangs of machete-wielding youths. The country has seen violent gang wars amongst artisanal miners never seen before in the history of this country. Scores of innocent people have been injured and maimed. Lives have been lost. There has been a relentless surge in young gangs going on the rampage in all provinces of the country attacking and injuring people.”

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Justice Makonese also highlighted that the machete gangsters have also diversified the weapons they use to commit crimes and have now resorted to using axes, shovels and knives.

“What is most disturbing is that these machete youths have the tenacity to attack and even kill policemen in uniform. Unruly terror gangs recently killed a policeman, constable Wonder Hokoyo in Kadoma.”

Justice Makonese also called on the government to speed up the opening of the Gweru High Court to effectively deal with the increasing number of murder cases recorded in the province.
The Gweru circuit dealt with a high a volume of cases, which has necessitated the need for a permanent High Court.

“This High Court circuit generates a huge volume of cases. There is an urgent need for the establishment of a permanent High Court in the Midlands capital. The number of cases handled at this circuit clearly indicates that the administration of justice requires that a permanent station be established in order to deliver speedy and efficient justice to all in this vast province.”

He added: “We urge the government and the Judicial Service Commission to commit to this important project. Court facilities have everything to do with access to justice and the rule of law. Courts must be easily accessed.”

Justice Makonese described as unjustified for people in Gokwe, Shurugwi and Mberengwa to travel long distances to access the High Court in Harare, Bulawayo and Masvingo.

He said the current circuit will deal with 16 cases, adding that 12 were pending from the last legal year.

In 2018, Justice Nokuthula Moyo made a similar call for the province to have a permanent High Court saying the Gweru circuit had no capacity to conclude murder cases in the two weeks it sits.

Four years ago, Gweru residents resisted proposals to turn the idle mayoral mansion into a High Court building, saying council would not benefit from the move because the State had gained a reputation of failing to pay its dues.

During the same year, the JSC approached council requesting to lease the mayoral mansion for High Court sessions. The building has been lying idle for the past 12 years since the departure of former Gweru executive mayor, Sesil Zvidzai.