The police force in Dar es Salaam has launched investigation to identify people funding the ‘panya road’ criminal groups which placed the city in mayhem late Friday, with 36 of them arrested by police for questioning.
Briefing reporters at a press conference yesterday, police force spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Advera Bulimba said the 36 youths were arrested following the chaos made by the groups in various neighbourhoods.
SSP Bulimba said the suspects will be brought to court after investigations are completed.
The police headquarters spokesperson stated that the chaos was ignited by the death of Mohamed Ayoub who was a member of the group.
On January 1 Ayoub stole some properties in Tandale area in Kinondoni district and after the theft he was cornered and beaten to death by residents of the area.
“Then after the death of their fellow, the group planned to take revenge after the burial of Ayoub which took place at Kihatu Kagera Mikoroshini cemetery. We had already received reports of revenge plans before they acted,” she said.
Police were apparently close to the scene of the burial and a police statement said they “managed to control the violence after the funeral where youths from the group dispersed heading into different places.” No ring leaders of the vengeance plans were arrested, nor did the hooligans who forced the local imam to conduct the burial of the lynched suspect be arrested.
The spokesperson said after they dispersed into different places they caused tension among residents of the neighbourhoods who feared that they would be subjected to violence, “but they could not do this because police had strengthened security in all areas of the city.”
This version of things is flatly denied by residents of various areas where the ‘panya road’ went about stealing and pillaging, and there were no signs of police presence in most of these places, waiting as usual in police stations for anyone to be reported for arrest.
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The spokesperson urged city residents to remain calm, not be afraid and continue with their daily chores, noting that police had so far arrested 36 suspects for interrogation and were continuing with investigations.
Residents point out that the marauders in various city suburbs were in hundreds, and arresting 36 of them, or found near such groups, shows that the police have few clues on who were involved.
Answering questions from reporters, she said the cost of disturbances had not yet been established, and that no victims of ‘panya road’ violence had been reported to police stations.
SSP Bulimba strongly urged youths participating in those groups to abandon that habit, saying the police had beefed up security in all regions “to ensure that the country is governed on the basis of the law.
We shall not have mercy on anyone or group of peple seeking to wreck the peace in the country and sow fear among the people,” she said, apparently referring to the likelihood that some individuals were funding the criminal groups.
Speaking over a telephone interview, Ilala Special Region police commander Marietha Minangi said that in Ilala there was no such ‘panya road’ group.
“There is no report within my region that there is any person injured by ‘Panya road’,” she stated.
For his part, Temeke Regional Police Commander Kihenya Kihenya said that it is true there is ‘panya road’ in the society but they have not yet managed to nab even one.
“This group exists, threatening lives in the community but until now we have not nabbed even one among them and the police are working seriously towards the matter,” Kihenya said.
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“Since ‘panya road’ are living within the community I call upon the public to cooperate with police officers to reveal them so that they can be punished according to the law,” he said, implying that the police don’t conduct any investigations on their own.
On Friday ‘panya road’ moved in various streers, from one side to another, at Buruguni, Mwananyamala, Tandale, Sinza, Kinondoni, Kigogo, Tabata, University of Dar es Salaam areas as well as Kimara areas.
“They attacked us in a bar at Sinza and we started running away from them. Then after I saw a police car following them,” an eyewitness said.
A Magomeni resident, named Nathan said residents had “predicted that there would be no peace since they were looking angry and others had weapons like machetes. Then after the burial they went to the streets and started beating people as well as taking their money and properties.”
After observing the developing chaos they started closing their shops and running away for their lives.