A joint operation by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has arrested 19 people for abusing military uniform to commit a spate of criminal offences.
The suspects, who committed the offences donning military regalia, masqueraded as soldiers in their criminal enterprise.
They would also abuse the uniform to get free rides.
Arrests were effected in the first five months of this year.
In a statement, ZNA public relations director Lieutenant-Colonel Alphios Makotore said ZNA and ZRP have, since the beginning of this year, warned the public against such criminals.
“The ZNA and ZRP have been on record warning members of the public to be on the lookout for these rogue elements and have henceforth arrested nineteen (19) bogus soldiers caught either committing various crimes or using the military uniform to commit crimes such as robbery and to get various favours such as travelling for free since the beginning of the year,” he said.
Lt Col Makotore warned those still in possession of military uniforms to surrender them to avoid arrest.
“The Zimbabwe National Army has noted with grave concern an increase in crimes being committed by bogus soldiers. This is despite an earlier notice to the public to surrender all military uniforms, military replicas and apparel to the nearest police station or military camps,” he said.
“Be warned that if anyone is caught either in possession of, or wearing military fatigues, they will face the full wrath of the law.
“In terms of section 99(2) (c) of the Defence Act (Chapter 11:02), any person who, without authority, wears or uses any decoration supplied to or authorised for use by any member of the Defence Forces or other military forces or any decoration so nearly resembling such decoration as to be likely to deceive, shall be guilty of an offence.”
Further to this, Lt Col Makotore said, Section 99 (4) of the same Act reads: “In any prosecution for any offence in terms of this Section relating to any act done without due or lawful authority, it shall be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that accused had no such authority.”
ZNA urged members of the public to report any acts of misconduct by anyone purporting to be a member of the army.