Members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) fleeing from the military service in their country are engaging in violent crimes in South Africa, South Africa’s Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Tuesday.
“There are people who come here from Zimbabwe, and they cross the line here. They run away from the military in Zimbabwe, and they come here and promote criminality here in South Africa.
“There are Zimbabwean ex-soldiers who are in this country, robbing banks and promoting criminality. They are running away from uncle Bob [Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe] there,” Mbalula told journalists at a media briefing in Pretoria.
“In Zimbabwe once you are a soldier, you are a soldier for life. You can’t get out of it. So to get out of it they run to South Africa, then they come here and rob banks. They are on the payroll of criminals, and we can’t trace them.
“If a South African steals, it’s easy to trace them because I will find you somewhere in the forensics because I have your fingerprints. I’ve got you all covered, South Africans.”
Mbalula said the Zimbabweans “enter the country illegally and they just come here not to promote goodwill”.
The minister however said his remarks were not xenophobic.
“Zimbabweans are working for us in this country. Very good Zimbabweans. They are working in our kitchens, they are everything, highly educated people. If there is anything that President Mugabe did was to educate his people. The people working in your kitchens are doctors. They are more educated than you. They are from Zimbabwe,” said Mbalula.
“Then there is a group of these criminals who come from the army. They come into this country – they rob, they terrorise, and they kill. That’s what they do. So we arrest them. We have got them.”
Mbalula urged members of the South African Police Service to toughen their stance against criminals in the country.
“The minister will launch the ‘Wanya Tsotsi’ campaign which will chase the most dangerous criminals in the country. We will hunt them down, till we find them. All criminals who are on the run must be found and be locked up by the South African Police Service. We will be launching the ‘Wanya, Wafa Tsotsi’ campaign throughout the country,” said Mbalula.
“We will meet fire with fire. Within the prescripts of the law, we will shoot to defend the innocent. We will shoot to defend ourselves, the force and members of the SAPS to ensure that there is law and order in this country. Criminals will not reign.”
Mbalula said in South Africa, it now seems as if “everybody has an AK47”.
“When they come with AK47, we must hit them with what is equal to them. They don’t come to rob a bank with a revolver. They come heavily armed, with automatic machine guns. There is lots of AK47s here in this country, I don’t know where they come from. Whether they were left by us [anti-apartheid fighters] I don’t know. Everybody has an AK47, ammunition and all of that. They must know, we will respond to them equally,” said Mbalula emphatically.
“The TRT [the SAPS’s elite Tactical Response Unit] will remain and execute it’s job. They must be positioned to respond to dangerous criminals. I’m not saying use force recklessly. I’m against that. I’m against rogueness, the use of force recklessly and the use of force against unarmed civilians.”
The new police minister was addressing journalists on his ministry’s strategic plan for the period of 2017 to 2019.