By Luthando Mapepa Chipinge Correspondent
CASES of macadamia theft in Chipinge have escalated leaving farmers counting their losses as daring criminals that have camped in the district looting the precious nuts in broad daylight. The situation has become so dire and chances are that it might degenerate into a mortal threat if the criminals are not brought to book.
Chipinge macadamia association secretary Mr James Maisiri told The Manica Post on Wednesday that farmers were almost losing the battle to the daring macadamia armed robbers.
He said they were engaging members of the security sector on possible solutions to address the situation.
“Macadamia farmers are at risk of losing all their produce this season to armed robbers that have besieged the district. The criminals have invaded our farms and are looting the nuts at will. They are so daring, and are posing a serious threat to human life.
“So far we have recorded a high number of cases of armed robberies where security guards have been attacked by the armed robbers. So far the criminals have looted nuts worth several thousands of dollars.
“We are resigned to losing the battle to stop this invasion because the criminals are using sophisticated weapons. We have also observed that some of the armed robbers are coming as far as Harare. We have since engaged police to assist and help us to contain the situation,” he said.
Mr Maisiri said the association has also engaged Government to enact a statutory instrument aimed to protect macadamia farmers.
“We have engaged Government to enact a law with provisions which penalise those who steal macadamia nuts. For long offenders have been given light sentences despite the magnitude of the crime. Imagine our nuts generate foreign currency to the national economy.
“The lenient sentences which are being passed by the courts are not consistent with the economic impact of the offence, and this encourages the robbers to continue with their modus operandi of robbing farmers of the precious nuts. We are calling on Government to pass a legislation which criminalises the theft of macadamia nuts,” he added.