Two companies robbed of US$66 000

Crime Reporter 

TWO Harare companies lost over US$66 000 and R71 000 in separate incidents to 12 armed robbers who raided their premises this week.

The robbers  attacked security guards before ransacking the offices and stealing the cash.

One of the incidents occurred at company premises along Seke Road while the other one at a wholesale in Chitungwiza where over US$10 000 was stolen.

Along Seke Road, the robbers stole US$56 377 and R71 000.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incidents. 

“Police in Harare are appealing for information which may assist in the investigation of a case of robbery which occurred at a company along Seke Road, Hatfield on April 14, 2024. 

“Six unknown suspects who were armed with a pistol attacked a security guard who was on duty at the company premises before gaining entry into the offices where they disabled all security systems. The suspects ransacked the offices before stealing US$56 377 and R71 000 cash, a laptop and Samsung tablet,” he said. 

In another case of robbery which occurred on April 17, 2024 at a wholesale at Tilco Industry in Chitungwiza, six unknown suspects attacked two security guards who were on duty at the shop before stealing US$10 507 which was in a safe. 

The suspects blasted the safe open using dynamites. The latest incidents come after police have also recovered a tenth firearm belonging to the nine suspected robbers who were arrested on allegations of committing a spree of armed robberies, which include the J and P Security US$145 000 heist in 2022, as investigations continue.

On Tuesday, Innocent Chawaguta (37), Tafadzwa Chirinda Chaute (36), Owen Mbayi (37), Promise Mussa (36), Tapiwa Chigwaze (39), Winston Matizanadzo (46), Kamuriwo Mudziwaona (39) and Farai Chauke (38) appeared before Harare regional magistrate Taurai Manuwere charged with five counts of armed robbery.

They were told only the High Court could grant them bail before being remanded to May 2 pending finalisation of investigations.

When they were arrested, police had initially recovered nine firearms which were being used by the gang to commit the crimes. They also recovered various electrical gadgets and solar panels.

The recovered guns have since been taken to CID Ballistics for examination and further investigations. 

It is alleged that on May 16, 2022 just after midnight, the gang scaled a pre-cast wall and entered the premises at 17 Walterhill, Eastlea Harare the offices of J and P Security.

They were seen on CCTV by Hardlife Matare and Nyasha Severa who were manning the control room and when Mr Matare walked out to check what was happening, he was confronted by the gang that was armed with pistols and rifles.

The gang manhandled the two together with other members of staff who were present. They tied their hands and legs and locked them in a toilet.

The gang grabbed the keys to the strong room and stole cash that had been collected from various clients amounting to US$142 995 and six firearms. Only US$4 900 was recovered.

On the second charge, it is alleged that on February 25 this year at around 1am, the gang robbed security guard Denford Chizanga who was guarding 798 Acacia Street, Windsor Park in Ruwa.

The suspects armed with a revolver and pistols attacked Mr Chizanga who was armed with a shotgun. They tied him up using cable ties, and robbed him of a cellphone and US$3 cash. They took away his shotgun and tried to blast open the cash safe, but failed.

They later stole three laptops and other property valued at US$4 952.The value of the recovered property is US$1 500.

On another count, Assulani Jackson was doing his routine work at a service station when the gang arrived and fired shots into the air to scare him. 

The court heard the gang then grabbed and assaulted him. 

They took his cellphone and bound his face with red and white tape.

They dragged him into a kiosk at the service station and forced him to lie down on his stomach while one gangster questioned him about the location of the safe. He denied knowledge of where money was kept and the gang then took a Chubb safe which was in the kiosk, it contained US$12.

They also took a .303 rifle and left Mr Jackson lying in the kiosk. Property valued US$400 was recovered. 

On another charge, the State alleged that on March 27 2024 at about 6pm, Mr Liberty Tsingano and Mr Elton Kadembetembe started the night shift at a service station in Harare.

The following day at about 2am, the gang turned up in two vehicles, a silver Nissan AD van and a white Mitsubishi whose registration numbers are unknown.

They acted as if they wanted to buy fuel and parked their two vehicles near the pumps where they indicated that they needed fuel worth US$10 for the Mitsubishi Colt vehicle.

Attendant Mr Kadembetembe filled the car with petrol worth US$10 and then demanded payment.

One of the accused who was armed with an unidentified pistol jumped out, causing Mr Kadembetembe to panic and run away without getting payment for the fuel.

Mr Tsingano, who was about 30 metres away, drew his revolver and fired a warning shot.

Suddenly all the gang members jumped out of the two vehicles armed with two AK rifles and six unidentified pistols.

They charged towards Mr Tsingano and seized his revolver. 

The suspects tied him up with a rope and force marched him into a separate room where they left him under guard.

The accused broke the screen and door to the office where a safe was secured and gained entry, the court heard. While inside, they used explosives to blast the safe which partially opened.

They tried to take money from the safe but the notes could not be easily pulled out since they were rolled into bunches.

The suspects were arrested after a robbery at a residence in The Grange, where they stole US$650, laptops and cellphones on April 13 this year. Police tracked a stolen iPad to the home of one of the gang members, leading to the arrest of Innocent Chawaguta.

He implicated eight other suspects who were arrested through a series of lures and shoot-outs.

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