Robbers in police uniform vanish with US$59 000

Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
A gang of robbers, fed with information by an inside accomplice, robbed a Harare businessman of US$59 000, by pretending to be police officers enforcing lockdown regulations and then two of them squandered the money on Mercedes Benz vehicles, leaving the informer out.

Simba Kanyepi (24), an illegal foreign currency dealer who works for and stays with the victim, allegedly connived with Hemish Chagadama (32) and Shingai Mazviwanza (29) to rob Mr Luke Kwezera of his money, with Kanyepi keeping the robbery gang posted on Mr Kwezera’s movements with money.

The three appeared in court yesterday before magistrate Mr Richard Ramaboa charged with robbery. They were freed on $5 000 bail each and ordered to report to the police daily pending their next court appearance on May 27.

Representing the State, Messrs Hatizivo Chatikobo and Norman Karopi alleged that the three had planned to rob Mr Kwezera as soon as they knew he would be carrying a large sum away from home.

On April 24, he decided to go to a car sales in Newlands to see a client who wanted a lot of cash in United States dollars.

So at noon, Kanyepi, who was in the same car as Mr Kwezera, texted Chagadama and Mazviwanza telling them that his boss was carrying US$59 000, where it was hidden in the car, and where they were going.

The gang members raced to the same car sale. They told Kanyepi not to continue texting them since they had spotted the two and would be following them.

After the intended money transaction had failed, Mr Kwezera passed through town on his way home.

Chagadama, Mazviwanza and others who are still at large who had been following his car suddenly blocked it at the intersection of Sam Nujoma Street and Robert Mugabe Road in the city centre.

Three of the robbers were wearing police uniform and holding batons.

They reportedly confronted Mr Kwezera demanding his permit to move around since the country was under lockdown.

Then they allegedly slapped him, took his car keys from the ignition, handcuffed him and bundled him into the back seat. They searched him and took his three cellphones, a Samsung J4, Samsung M30 and Samsung M20.

In the melee, a silver Mercedes Benz arrived with other members of the gang.

The gang grabbed the US dollars, and kept Mr Kwezera and Kanyepi who was still pretending to be a victim, in his car and said they would drive the two to Rhodesville Police Station.

Instead, these other robbers drove Mr Kwezera’s vehicle to the roundabout at the intersection of Mutare Road and Harare Drive, where they removed the handcuffs from him before dumping the two and making good their escape.

Chagadama and Mazviwanza bought vehicles with their share of the loot two days after the robbery, while Kanyepi told the police that he was still to get his share, it is alleged.

The new vehicles that the two bought are being held as exhibits, while police have information on the communication among gang members before, during and after the commission of the crime.

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