Police in Tsholotsho arrested 14 people from Khekhethe village under chief Gampu and recovered more than 300 mbanje plants. The police raided the village following a tip-off and recovered the 358 plants, some as tall as 1,5 metres. The suspects who include eight men and six women were cultivating the dagga at their homesteads.
Police said they suspect more villagers are involved in the cultivation of the dagga and were therefore conducting further investigations. The suspects whose ages range from 19 to 70 years were cultivating the mbanje in their gardens. A Matabeleland North police team that was conducting an anti-crime awareness campaign was tipped by members of the public that some villagers were cultivating mbanje.
The police later raided Khekhethe village and arrested the 14 suspects, leading to the recovery of the mbanje plants. Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Siphiwe Makonese yesterday confirmed the arrest of the suspects. “I confirm the arrest of 14 villagers in Tsholotsho after they were found growing mbanje in their gardens,” said Insp Makonese.
She, however, could not give the street value of the recovered dagga. Insp Makonese said police were happy that the anti-crime awareness campaign was already paying dividends. “We’re happy that people are now coming forward with
information which is assisting the police to fight crime,” she said.
One of the suspects claimed in an interview that the dagga was for his consumption. According to villagers, many of those cultivating the mbanje sell it to dealers who smuggle it to neighbouring countries such as Botswana and South Africa. Chief Gampu said he was shocked following the arrest of so many of his subjects for cultivating mbanje.
“I wasn’t aware that such an illegal activity was happening in my area and I call on the police to continue with such raids,” he said.