NEWS

Armed Robbery Cases Increased in 2021

Dec 24, 2021

Cases of armed robberies increased countrywide this year with criminals targeting cash-in transit vehicles, individuals and business people with large amounts of cash.

Schools and cross-border buses also became regular targets for the perpetrators of gun-related crimes, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars.

Law enforcement agents have of late scored successes in accounting for armed robbers and this comes after President Mnangagwa recently sounded the death knell to drug kingpins, drug peddlers, and gun-totting robbers by directing police to smoke out and bring such characters to book.

Police strongly believe that some of the country's suspected serial armed robbers who were out on bail pending trials or appeals, were behind the spate of these criminal activities.

There had been a marked increase in armed robberies in country in recent weeks with robbers getting away with huge sums of money.

In most cases the victims were also hold hostage and tortured while others killed by the robbers who were looking for cash. Some of them were arrested while others were shot and killed. Others are still on the run.

In January, there was a robbery of US$2,775 million and $43 000 from a cash-in-transit ZB Bank vehicle along Harare-Chinhoyi Road which was believed to be an inside job where three security personnel in the vehicle allegedly connived with robbers.

As a result, the three security staff and their more than eight accomplices were arrested.

The State alleged that the three were tasked to carry seven boxes containing US$2 775 000. This cash was to be ferried to ZB branches -- Chinhoyi US$75 000, Kadoma US$25 000, Kwekwe and Gweru US$150 000 each, Bulawayo US$200 000, Gwanda US$50 000 and Zvishavane US$100 000.

They were travelling in a Toyota Hilux single cab with a canopy, secured with a tracker and emergency panic button.

In May, five unidentified robbers stormed Thorncroft Primary School in Ruwa, blasted a safe and went away with US$30 000 cash.

The robbers who were armed with pistols first captured the security guard manning the premises before stealing the cash, including a Samsung TV and a Nokia Cellphone.

In June, two of the country's serial armed robbers, Spicer Takawira and Musafare Mupamhanga who were wanted for committing a spate of armed robberies, housebreakings and theft in and around the city were arrested following a shootout with police in Glen View 7, Harare.

Takawira (29), Musafare Mupanhanga (48) and Conwell Kasambarare were alleged to be part of the gang that raided Mashwede Holdings last year and got away with over US$100 000, R42 000, $14 000 worth of fuel coupons, firearms and 20 live rounds of ammunition.

They had been released from jail on bail pending appeal at the High Court and had since gone into hiding.

Takawira and Mupamhanga were arrested together with their five other accomplices being James Nyakutsikwa (34) of 1540 Retreat Park, Waterfalls, Newman Watsikwa aged (34) of Southlea Park, Joseph Chinhemba (26) of 4 Tutbury Close Houghton Park, Leo Mandaza (40), of 12275 Kuwadzana Extension and Chamunorwa Takawira (29) of 16388 Sunningdale 2.

They were facing several counts of armed robberies that they committed in and around the city.

In August, four habitual armed robbers operating from South Africa and strongly suspected of being behind a spate of robberies in Zimbabwe targeting cash were seriously injured following a shootout with a police crack team after being cornered in Harare's Highfield suburb.

Abel Marufu Mukandawire (40), Francis Hazangure (46), Blessing Gamanya (32) and Edmore Marwizi Mapuranga (44) were sent to a local hospital under heavy police guard.

Their two accomplices -- Roy Mutemagazi alias Rototo and Kudakwashe Choga alias Bagiza, managed to flee during the shootout near Cyril Jennings Hall along Jabavu Drive in Old Highfield.

Police then launched a manhunt for other suspected accomplices, Maidei Nyamukapa, Brian Murape and Dennis Matate, who are implicated in some of the armed robbery cases the gang previously committed.

Most of the suspects had been on police's most wanted list and would operate from South Africa to evade arrest. They would normally enter Zimbabwe, commit robberies and then flee south across the Limpopo.

The gang targeted individuals, business people and business premises where they were large amounts of cash.

Recently, three armed robbers were shot dead by a retired CID Homicide detective, Mr Joseph Nemaisa at his Chadcombe home, after allegedly targeting the wrong house.

The gang of armed robbers which was hitting the Chadcombe house then found out the hard way that they were attacking the family of Mr Nemaisa who managed to race back home, leap over a wall and in the resulting gun fire exchange, took out three of the five robbers and saved his family from torture and further assault.

More remarkably, two of the robbers were armed with assault rifles, but while severely outgunned Mr Nemaisa used his training and almost two decades of experience in the CID to win through.

Police were also investigating a case in which, six armed robbers were involved in a shoot-out with police in Bulawayo and believed to be part of a gang that raided Choppies Parklands Supermarket and Access Finance in the city, getting away with nearly US$300 000 and R1 million.

Police shot and killed three of the armed robbers while they were also trying to rob a mining equipment dealer in Bulawayo's Fourwinds suburb. Three others were taken into custody and have appeared in court.

The robbers were Anorld Mpofu alias Tsano (39) and Thamsanqa Mpofu, who were killed on the scene, while Nomore Hove (39) died a few days later after being admitted.

A Chitungwiza couple lost over US$21 700, R5 000 and various electrical gadgets to six armed robbers who attacked them at their house in September. The incident occurred on a Saturday night in Zengeza 3.

Police also launched a manhunt for five suspects who pounced on a house in Glen Lorne, Harare, and got away with US$51 000.

The suspects first held the occupants' hostage and later robbed them of cash and other valuables worth thousands of dollars.

In October, 11 men suspected to be the gang of armed robbers who had raided the Zvinavashe family farm in Norton, and attacked several people before they got away with three AK47 assault rifles and other goods, including cellphones, were arrested.

The farm is owned by Mrs Margaret Zvinavashe, the widow of national hero General Vitalis Zvinavashe.

Police recovered the three assault rifles with 180 rounds of ammunition, two pistols with 13 and five rounds of ammunition each and a revolver with eight rounds of ammunition. A white Toyota FunCargo (AEY 8362) which was used by the gang as a getaway car has also been impounded.

The arrested 11 were: Tendai Munson Ndlovu (43), Kudakwashe Adoni (28), Kosamu Phiri (36), Svinurai Marandu (29), Louis Munyanani (29), Tanya Nyanzou (45), Tozivepi Buyamangara (47), Friday Tembo (43), Pius Ncube (44), Abraham Muzamba (31) and Christopher Danda (37).

In November, six armed robbers attacked a grocery shop owner and a Mukuru employee before they got away with US$18 537 and R37 500 in Norton on Monday morning.

The incident occurred at Katanga Business Centre at around 7.25am.

Five armed robbers attacked a 32-year-old woman after blocking her Toyota Hiace along the Harare-Mutare Highway and robbed her of US$20 000 cash and a cellphone.

Some 66 passengers aboard a cross border MBT bus to South Africa were also robbed of R167 050 and $7 367 after three armed robbers who had pretended to be genuine passengers, drew out pistols and started shooting at passengers and at the roof of the bus while ordering the bus driver to stop.

The incident occurred at the 186km peg along the Harare-Masvingo Highway near Mvuma around 11pm. The bus driver, Mr Lazarus Mungadzi (46) and three passengers were injured.

One female passenger was shot on the chest and was in a critical condition and admitted to Gweru Provincial Hospital.

Early this month, five suspects in a case involving theft of US$334 290 from a Fawcett transit vehicle were remanded in custody by Midlands provincial Magistrate Mr Edwin Marecha.

The alleged culprits, including four Fawcett employees charged with theft as defined in a section of the Criminal Law (Codification Reform) Act are Bongani Mapfumo, Blessing Lizhu, Emmanuel Nhamo, Thomas Chisambadzi and Langelihle Moyo.

Allegations are that the accused and four others who are still at large, hatched a plan to steal Fawcett Security Company cash which they had been assigned to transport from Bulawayo to Harare.

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They were using a company vehicle driven by Mapfumo. In Bulawayo, the accused picked Lizhu who is not their fellow employee and travelled with him in the same vehicle with the cash.

Allegations are that while on the way and near Connemara Open Prison, Mapfumo stopped the vehicle to pick four other accused persons who are still at large and were driving a white Honda Fit vehicle. They then allegedly connived and decided to pretend to have been robbed.

It is said they broke the three cash boxes using a bolt cutter they had carried for that purpose and took the cash amounting to US$305 290. Mapfumo, Nhamo, Chisambadzi and Moyo then proceeded to the police and made a false robbery report.

Upon investigation, police realised that there was never a robbery. They recovered US$18 750 through indications made by Lizhu.

President Mnangagwa this week issued a stern warning against perpetrators of gun-related crimes saying those who dabble in arms will soon fall by the sword.

The remarks come as Zimbabwe has of late recorded an increase in violent crimes, especially armed robberies targeting corporates and individuals, who keep large sums of money.

In his address on the commemoration of the National Unity Day at State House, President Mnangagwa said Government now treats violent crime as a grave threat to personal and national security.

"Lately, we have witnessed an upsurge in gun-related crimes. There is a clear upsurge in abuse of firearms, including violent armed robberies," he said.

"Government now treats this as a grave threat to personal and national security. Decisive measures have now become necessary to put an end to this growing menace which threatens our otherwise peaceful, law-abiding nation and citizenry.

"Those who dabble in arms, will soon fall by the sword. Let them be warned."

Police and the courts have also voiced their concern over the increase in armed robberies cases and called for stiffer penalties to deter would be offenders.

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