One of the armed robbers arrested following a shoot-out with police on Friday night after robbing a Harare businessman of US$10 000 had just been released in jail on bail pending appeal.
Blessing Bheura (29) was one of the six armed robbers, including a serving member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, who violently resisted arrest when police pounced after they had robbed a businessman.
Police were forced to return fire. Four of the armed robbers were killed while Bheura and Tichaona Kariwa (33) of Domboshava were arrested.
Those that were killed are Constable Kudzai Kanjera (41) of ZRP Hatfield, Admire Nhetekwa (26), Brian Chibaya (37) and Tatenda Chari (35).
Police had received a tip-off that the robbers were planning to pounce on the businessman, and they ambushed them soon after the robbery.
Bheura had been released last Tuesday on bail, just three days before the robbery.
He was on bail for an armed robbery in Murehwa while using a pistol that he had allegedly stolen from the safe in the house of a Waterfalls couple this year, before he started committing criminal activities.
Police said some of the suspects who died during the shoot-out were on their wanted list for committing a spate of armed robberies in and around Harare.
This is not the first time that criminals released on bail have committed crimes before being rearrested.
Recently, 12 suspected armed robbers, including two ex-policemen, who were released on bail at the High Court last year, were on police’s most wanted list for committing a spate of robberies in and around Harare and skipping bail.
A manhunt for the 12, and other wanted suspects, has since been launched although some are believed to have skipped the country.
They were once arrested, but disappeared after being granted bail by the courts, resulting in warrants of arrest being issued against them for violating the report conditions of bail or not turning up on their remand dates.
Those that were being hunted down include Alouis Nyamadzawo, Decide Rice, Godfrey Josi, Elijah Temai Vumbunu, Leonard Huni, Fanuel Chikadaya, Peter Mushipe, Conwell Kasambarare (28), Musafare Mupamhanga, Spicer Takawira and the two ex-cops Watson Magodhi (37) and Ayanda Gumbo (28).
Most of the suspects had previous criminal records.
In March last year, a robbery gang comprising the two ex-policemen, Magodhi and Gumbo, a soldier and cellphone dealers, were arrested after being charged as members of the gang operating in Chitungwiza and Kuwadzana, using guns, machetes and axes. During its criminal operations, the gang stole $29 350, US$6 310 and R12 000 from five victims.
Recently, Musafare Mupamhanga, Conwell Kasambarare and Spicer Takawira, believed to be part of a gang that raided Mashwede Holdings and got away with over US$100 000, R42 000, $14 000 worth of fuel coupons, two firearms and 20 live rounds of ammunition, were recently released on bail in separate applications at the High Court.
The three, who operated with one of the most dangerous robbers in Zimbabwean history including suspected gang leader — Musa Taj Abdul — were released after the State consented on the basis that some of their co-accused were out on bail.
Kasambarare, Mupamhanga and their accomplice, Takawira, then applied for bail which was granted between May and October. Kasambarare was granted bail on May 26 while Takawira got his on August 19 last year.
Head of Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) Mr Thabani Mpofu recently said the unit was concerned about the release on bail of dangerous criminals, sometimes before their initial trial and sometimes after conviction and jail sentences while their cases went on appeal.