Dar es Salaam. At least nineteen people from the Dar es Salaam neighbourhood of Kunduchi were on Monday attacked by a group of marauders commonly known in Kiswahili as ‘Panya Road,’ a day after President Samia Suluhu Hassan warned members of the gang, telling them that “there will be consequences for their actions.”
Police are yet to comment about the incident. But according to reports circulating on social media the band of marauders raided the Mtongani street in Kunduchi and started attacking people with machetes with the goal of robbing them of their properties.
According to statements by victims of the attack reported by local media, the attackers are adolescent boys who showed up in different groups, demanding people provide them with whatever properties they might have including mobile phones, before attacking them with machetes.
Monday’s development regarding the persistence of Panya Road attacks in Dar es Salaam means that police in Tanzania’s commercial capital will need to intensify their operations aimed at eliminating the security threat once and for all.
Dar es Salaam Special Zone Commander Jumanne Muliro told journalists on April 28, 2022, that law enforcement authorities are holding 10 members of the band during a special operation launched to put the security situation in the city back to normalcy.
Muliro’s statement followed reports that boys aged between 13 and 21 marauded the areas of Chanika and Tabata in the city with the sole aim of robbing people of their properties using traditional weapons of knives and machetes, leaving dozens injured and panicked.
“This operation is intense and continuous and it will be carried out in all areas of Dar es Salaam,” Muliro said during a press conference. “[The police] will work closely with citizens and see these criminal gangs are stopped as soon as possible in accordance with the law.”
In her May Day speech on Sunday, President Samia expressed concern over the terrifying trend, urging the boys involved in the crimes to stop, warning them that they will face the law enforcement’s wrath should the trend continues.
“I’m warning them to stop immediately,” President Samia said. “They should immediately stop such bestiality because when they put other people’s lives at risk, and their properties, they are also putting their lives in danger.”
While the security danger that Panya Road poses to civilians remains a matter of concern to many people, theories about what might have led to the emergence of the groups persist.
One concerns the economic precarity that many young Tanzanians find themselves in.
This was the conclusion of a 2019 study that examined the trend when it emerged then. Researchers called on authorities to provide an education system, which is skill-oriented to enable young people to employ themselves, as a means to solve the challenge.
Kuduishe Kisowile is a medical doctor and public health commentator who thinks that until the nation invests heavily in eradicating youth poverty, the danger of being attacked by Panya Road will remain as eminent as ever.
“People, especially youths, join criminal gangs like Panya Road because they need to belong first,” Kisowile says in a Twitter post. “Schools have failed them, there are no alternatives. The only way that remains to make it in life is joining [criminal] gangs.”
Others think the reemergence of Panya Road is a failure on the part of Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro to ensure the safety of people and their properties, going as far as urging the top cop to step down.