Shamva thieves use veld fire ruse

By Marsha Sengwe

CRIMINALS are starting veld fires in some parts of Mashonaland Central in order to
force home owners to attend to the fires while the thieves go and steal from them.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Mashonaland Central spokesperson,
Maxwell Mupotsa, said this modus operandi is common in Mazowe and Shamva
“Working together with the Zimbabwe Republic Police, of late we have been
receiving reports of thefts after veld fires in the aforementioned districts but l do not
have statistics of recorded thefts.”
Meanwhile, EMA working together with the department of AGRITEX is encouraging
farmers to start preparing for the 2023/4 farming season and clearing their land to
first create fire guards before burning unwanted biomass.
Mupotsa encouraged farmers to increase the width of their fire guards from nine
metres to even 12 metres wide, saying due to the ongoing strong winds, veld fires
might cross the stipulated nine-metre wide fire guards.
He also encouraged the farmers to notify their neighbours whenever they intend to
start fire.
The Environmental Management Agency has been training community fire fighting
teams to help in the event of outbreaks of wild fires.
In Mazowe, Chief Negomo has set penalties for veld fire perpetrators.
“We are saying whoever starts these fires and fails to contain them is susceptible to
a fine of a beast. If no one is identified to have ignited the fire and the whole village
also tries to protect the perpetrators, that village will pay at least two beasts. That is
for small villages. Bigger villages will pay more.
“The beasts are not mine. We sell them and the proceeds go towards a chosen
developmental project within Mazowe,” he explained.
To avoid implementation of these punitive measures, Chief Negomo pleaded with
people in Mashonaland Central to avoid starting veld fires.
He said there are sacred artifacts, graves and places in the forests in the province
that must never be disturbed.
“At times, you end up seeing some people going insane after starting these fires. Let
us be careful. We have to protect such places, our natural resources, forests and our
lives as well.
“There are some people losing their lives due to these fires. Whenever you want to
start your fire for any reason, make sure you have all the necessary fire fighting
equipment around. Think of the elderly, the sick and the young who might not be
able to run away when these fires approach their homesteads,” he emphasised.
Chief Negomo also implored the people of Mashonaland Central to keep their
communities clean.

The Chief joined Mazowe, SAS Mine and Mazowe Prison inmates during a clean-up
exercise they had along the Harare – Mazowe Inn Road on Tuesday.
The campaign was organised by the Environmental Management Agency.
In the process of picking the litter Chief Negomo came face to face with a heap of
used diapers that he helped pick up.
After the encounter, he said: “I wonder where we are losing our culture? This
tendency of openly disposing of children waste is dangerous. The waste can be used
in witchcraft exercises and that can affect the child. Women should be careful, this is
so wrong.”

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