Cases of members of the public abusing military uniforms have been on the increase over the past months. In one of the latest cases, six notorious armed robbers, masquerading as soldiers and clad in stolen Army uniforms allegedly broke into a shop in Harare and escaped with goods worth more than US $19 000.
Examples of the above case pose serious threats to the integrity and reputation of the ZNA. The Army has been on public record warning members of the public against the unauthorised and criminal use of military uniforms and the Zimbabwe Military Police and Zimbabwe Republic Police, have always been out in full force, to apprehend those found abusing military uniforms.
The Zimbabwe Military Police in conjunction with Zimbabwe Republic Police, recently recovered an assortment of military uniforms and equipment comprising combat jackets, t-shirts, camouflage shirts and denims, patrol boots, detonator fuses, military identification cards, combat caps, rucksacks and webbing belts. These were recovered in various cities and towns which include Mutare, Chirundu, Chipinge, Rusape, Chitungwiza, Chinhoyi, Kwekwe and Harare.
More than 10 civilians caught with these uniforms and equipment claimed they were given the items by their relatives and friends who are serving members of the ZNA. These accused culprits appeared before the courts in various towns and cities, with some being remanded in custody, others sentenced to three months to one year in prison, while others were fined a maximum of RTGS $200.
Among the culprits was one Prince Mutseruka from Templeton Mine in Chinhoyi, who was arrested after he demanded to illegally mine at Templeton Gold Mine wearing an Army denim and camouflage shirt, webbing belt and combat cap. The alert owner of the mine reported him to a ZNA member Corporal Chipfuwo who later on apprehended him and handed him over to ZRP Banket.
Recently, towards the end of May, the ZNA and ZRP apprehended three (3) more bogus soldiers who were caught committing various crimes. This brings the total number of arrested bogus soldiers to 22 since the beginning of the year. The three are Talent Tamuka Kufaigore of Plot 1, Bluegrass Farm, Guruve, who was arrested in Harare CBD on 22 May 2019, Onasi Ndlovu of Killerny Squatter Camp, Bulawayo, who was nabbed on 26 May 2019 and Tendai Nyakabawo of House Number 404, New Tafara, Mabvuku, apprehended on 28 May 2019.
Abusing Army uniform or any other camouflage material is a serious offence. Members of the public continue to be warned and are strongly advised to be very wary of any suspicious looking characters they may encounter in public wearing Army uniforms.
In terms of Section 99(2) (c) of the Defence Act (Chapter 11:02), “any person who without authority wears or uses any decoration supplied to or authorised for use by any member of the Defence Forces or other military forces or any decoration so nearly resembling such decoration as to be likely to deceive shall be guilty of an offence.” Further to this, Section 99 (4) states that, “in any prosecution for any offence in terms of this Section relating to any act done without due or lawful authority, it shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proved that accused had no such authority.