Bunge orders swift action against Panya Road gangs

THE National Assembly has directed the government to immediately launch crackdowns against crime juvenile groups, alias ‘Panya Road’, who are allegedly responsible for recurring incidents of armed robbery, assault and killings in some parts of the country.

In recent years, the group has been terrorising residents in urban areas with Dar es Salaam dwellers bearing the brunt. Lately, the group has been reported to carry out the illegal acts in some localities in Tabata, Kinyerezi and Mbezi Beach areas in Dar es Salaam region.

Reports were awash in social media and in mainstream media on Wednesday, stating that the armed gang of youths mid this week invaded some houses at Kawe Mzimuni in Dar es Salaam, killing a student from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) of the University of Dar es Salaam, including injuring some residents.

Speaker of Parliament Dr Tulia Ackson issued the directive to the government yesterday in response to Ms Bahati Ndingo (Special Seats, CCM) and Bona Kamoli (Segerea MP, CCM), who demanded that the Parliament deliberate on the state of security that has now become a matter of huge concern.

Ms Kamoli and Ms Ndingo requested Speaker Tulia to allow the Parliament to deliberate on the subject, treating it as a matter of agency.

Ms Ndingo told the House that ‘Panya Road’ gangs were now becoming a serious threat to the safety and security of people and their properties in Dodoma, Dar es Salaam and other regions.

According to the legislator, the armed youths also targeted some Members of Parliament in Dodoma region though none of them (MPs) died.

Responding to the two MPs’ requests, Speaker Tulia said the matter fell short of meeting the parliamentary rules of being discussed on an emergency basis but found it necessary to direct the government to take it as a special subject that needed swift action.

“It is true that some MPs are among the victims of the illegal acts carried out by the group. Though none of them lost their lives. We understand that their survival was at risk. Let me be clear, I am not calling for swift action simply because MPs are among the victims. I am doing so because we need to protect the lives and properties of Tanzanians,” said Dr Tulia.

The band of marauders, since 2015, has been wreaking havoc in some cities and other urban areas, making away with properties. In so doing the armed youths have been killing people, including injuring others.

Despite police carrying out some operations the group has been disappearing and reemerging. It would be recalled that in 2015 police carried out a special operation, arresting about 500 youths.

The Acting Commander of the Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) William Mkonda stated on Wednesday that they have launched a manhunt after the murder of Maria Paschal (24), a second-year student at the University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communications, by a group of criminals during a home invasion.

Armed with machetes and other lethal weapons, the criminals, whose number was over ten, broke into the Kawe neighbourhood in Dar es Salaam.

They randomly entered residences and took items, including cell phones, from occupants.

When they arrived at Maria’s house, they broke down doors to force their way inside the 15-room house. They killed the 24-year-old student, while injuring three other people.

ACP Mkonda emphasised that anyone in Tanzania who hates crime should condemn and denounce the act, while urging individuals to use legal means of making a living.

In order to combat the same criminality in their communities, he also urged Dar es Salaam residents and Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to improve community policing.

The Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Amos Makala stated yesterday that an additional 300 police officers have been deployed to the vicinity to bolster the search and arrest of those responsible.

He stated that the police started stepping up patrols over the entire commercial city of Dar es Salaam in an effort to catch those offenders.

“The fact that youngsters who commit crimes have parents who are in the area and others are failing to deal with them is quite unfortunate,” he said.

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