Bank Robberies: Decisive Action Must be Taken

Published on 11th September 2007

Tanzania has been known for its peace and tranquility. Rising incidents of corruption, robbery and thuggery are however threatening this serenity. Thuggery is one of the issues that denied President Jakaya Kikwete sleep in his initial days of presidency. He consequently declared war on thuggery and empowered the police by arming them and providing police cars and motorcycles as well as communication equipment.

In spite of the decrease in crime since Kikwete became president, the current incidents that involve the loss of massive amounts of money and life are threatening. Thugs have become very creative to an extent that instead of being subdued by security officers, the officers are always overpowered. This was demonstrated in a bank robbery at Mwanga district in Kilimanjaro that involved the loss of Tshs 200 million. The thugs hijacked the manager and drove with him past the unsuspicious bank guards.

Some citizens say that the great trust that Tanzanians have among themselves poses a great danger to the country. They say that security ought to be beefed up in monetary institutions. Even bank managers ought to undergo security checks and follow bank protocol. Being human, they are not free from the temptation to steal. Some bank staff say that Tanzanians should not be surprised when a bank manager will take off with bank money. This stems from the fact that bank managers are held in high esteem disregarding that they are mortals who have limitations.

One bank client says that the security around banks is not satisfactory. Most bank security officers are not keen on their jobs. It is common to find them buried in newspapers, engrossed in deep conversation with clients or even dozing!

The rising crime demands that surveillance cameras be mounted in and outside banks; security officers in banks be armed with modern weapons and security officers be increased (some banks have one or two guards who are no match for five robbers.) Furthermore, the issue of remuneration ought to be addressed. There is nothing that will stop a worker who earns less than Tshs 200 000 yet counts millions of shillings daily, to steal.

Most police officers are against the idea of bank compounds being used as homes for bank managers as this jeopardizes the manager’s family in case of a robbery. In the Mwanga incident, robbers took the manager’s children to the room that held the safe and used them as a shield against police attacks. This impeded speedy subduing of the criminals.

Bank managers should also be answerable in cases of robbery as they can collude with robbers by leaking to them the amount of money in the bank, opines a resident from Msangeni division of Mwanga. Other citizens believe that police officers have a hand in the robberies. They can’t comprehend how the Mwanga robbers escaped undeterred, using the Moshi –Arusha highway. Every Tanzanian knows that this road has high police surveillance with a view of curbing road accidents.

The ministry concerned with immigration should scrutinize illegal migrants as most thugs hail from neighboring countries. In spite of the drive towards East African integration, we need to decide whether we should continue to love Kenya-known for its supply of most thugs in Tanzania.

Institutions that harbor massive sums of money ought not be treated casually. Banks must have enough guards, give their employees a modest salary and use modern equipments to fight crime.

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