Why not re-introduce Sungusungu to curb growing insecurity?

23Mar 2016
The Guardian
Why not re-introduce Sungusungu to curb growing insecurity?

SECURITY for many of Tanzanians living both in urban and rural areas is, to say the least, wanting.

A day is never known to pass in which we do not read in the media of how bandits have terrorised homesteads, killing innocent people wherever they strike.

These bandits even claim lives just to obtain a paltry 1,000/-. In some cases, these incidents happen just a few steps from a police post or station.

In some cases we hear of bandits invading police stations, killing the police who are depended upon for security.

Crime in the ‘haven of peace’ is escalating. Research findings have it that three out of ten citizens experienced theft last year, with half of all Tanzanians having had something stolen from them.

Only recently were two guards with a Musoma-based tailoring company killed by bandits who hit them with heavy objects of their heads. The group of an estimated five wielding traditional weapons invaded the company and made away with tailoring machines after they committed murder.

Raids on police stations have of late become common. In January, last year, Ikwiriri police station in Coast Region was raided by bandits and two police officers were killed and five guns with 60 rounds of ammunition were stolen.

Up-country regions are also not spared. On September 7, 2014 at Bukombe police station, Geita Region, two police officers were killed and 10 guns (SMG) were lost to bandits.

These criminals have gone to the extent of breaking into an armory in Morogoro and stealing guns and ammunition. More and more of these incidents have happened in the country.

The findings by local non-governmental organisation, Twaweza, show that a majority of citizens, almost 84 per cent, believe they are likely to be affected by gangs.

We all remember the so-called Panya Road, a gang of youthful criminals, which caused mayhem among residents. We thank our police for thwarting them.

The feeling of insecurity among many Tanzanians, especially urban dwellers, has heightened. This situation actually has a great impact on their daily activities.

Crime experts affirm that urban areas are about three times more likely than rural areas to be victims of these crimes even though incidents such as cattle rustling are rampant in the latter.

Psychologists argue that experiencing crime often has a lasting negative psychological impact on the victims. We are of the opinion that the old system of vigilantes, comprising law-enforcing citizens should be re-introduced.

In the current situation, where the number police officers is not big enough to supervise their areas of jurisdiction effectively, needs radical change. We should go back to the time when Sungusungu system was doing good to this nation.

People at their localities were guarding their areas. Any person suspected of being a hooligan or was caught disrupting peace in the areas was handed over to the police right away.

We must not play with security. If not curbed, crime can have serious negative economic effects. It is a threat to tourism, it diverges small amounts of public resources away from productive investments towards law enforcement. This to a large extent effects productivity.