School children whose families were displaced by the construction of the Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam and relocated to Chingwizi area in Masvingo province are absconding lessons to raid NRZ trains carrying sugar cane bound for mills in Triangle.
According to the National Railways of Zimbabwe the school children place barricades on the tracks to force the trains to stop and loot sugar cane bound for Tongaat Hulett sugarcane mills in Triangle. Some parents have also been accused of colluding with their children in raiding the trains.
Some children have been injured while trying to steal the cane from the moving goods trains.
As a result of high incidences of sugar cane theft and injuries thereof, NRZ officials and other stakeholders held an awareness campaign in the area on Friday.
"We have got a challenge with women and children in Chingwizi who are intercepting sugarcane trains. Most of the affected trains will be coming from Mwenezana sugarcane farming area going to Triangle for milling.
"On Friday we held an awareness community meeting together with Tongaat Hullett officials as well as the local traditional leaders to try and address the issue," said Nyasha Maravanyika, NRZ public relations manager in an interview with newzimbabwe.com.
Maravanyika said during the meeting, it also emerged that some parents were actually sending their kids to raid the trains and take home the sugarcane.
He added that one child recently lost legs after being crushed by a goods train after a failed raid.
"From our engagement with the community, we realised that some of the thefts were done out of ignorance. Some of the parents tried to argue that the motivating factor behind the raids is hunger but sugar can cannot suppress hunger.
"Our approach was not confrontational. We emphasised the need to work together as well as the need to stop vandalism of NRZ properties which are of national importance and strategic," said Maravanyika.
Maravanyika said the parastatal is also worried about the stoning of the Bulawayo /Chiredzi and Bulawayo /Chikwalakwala passenger trains.
Another stakeholders meeting will be convened in the area in December this year to assess progress.
The meeting was also attended by Mwenezi East MP Joosbi Sams Omar.