THE arrest of eight notorious armed robbers on Monday has brought relief to citizens across the country who were being terrorised by this armed gang. Among those arrested is Musa Taj Abdul (46) of Barham Green in Bulawayo who is one of the country’s most wanted armed robbers who has been on the run for more than 20 years.

Abdul is believed to be the mastermind behind a spate of armed robberies committed by the gang in different parts of the country. What is disturbing is that among those arrested on Monday is a police officer based in Beitbridge Tapiwa Mangoma and a former police officer Rudolf Kamhanga.

The arrested robbers are linked to armed robberies which occurred at Makoni Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza, Blue Circle, Glen Norah B and Marlborough in Harare among other cases around the country.

The country has witnessed an upsurge in armed robbery cases during the past few weeks, a confirmation that guns are in the wrong hands. Most of the guns used in armed robberies are either stolen from security services or are smuggled from neighbouring South Africa.

It is easy to access guns in SA compared to this country because we have very strict rules controlling the buying and selling of guns. In Zimbabwe an individual cannot just walk into a shop and buy a gun. When one needs a gun, he or she has to go through a process that includes vetting by the police. The person intending to buy the gun must also justify the need for such a weapon.

The owners of guns are then issued with licences and the police from time to time check on the use of the weapons. The notorious gang which was arrested on Monday was targeting business premises, homes and illegal foreign currency dealers and people are definitely relieved following the arrest.

Members of the public provided police with information leading to the arrest of the gang and that is as it should be. We want to commend the person or persons that provided the vital information to the police. We have said before that criminals live among communities and the onus is on members of the public to rid their communities of these criminals by reporting them to the police.

The police on their part should ensure criminals are weeded out of the force because they make their work difficult by providing information to criminals. The success of the Monday arrest is a confirmation that fighting crime requires co-operation between the police and members of the public.

Members of the public should not provide sanctuary to criminals but should instead make it very uncomfortable for them to reside within communities by reporting them to the police.

It is a fact that most of these robbers spend the day with their families and relatives and turn robbers at night. It is therefore, incumbent upon each and every citizen to assist the police rid society of these undesirable elements.