Pamela Shumba Senior Reporter—
AN illegal money changer – popularly known as Usiphatheleni – yesterday cheated death when a suspected armed robber shot him twice on the arm at a Bulawayo hotel while his accomplice got away with R30,000 and $600. His daughter, suspected to be about three-years-old and whom he was carrying during the transaction, was left splattered with blood.
Sources told The Chronicle the robbers allegedly invited Simbarashe Nyakutera, 28, to their room, saying they wanted to buy some South African rand at around 4PM. Mpumelelo Moyo and his unknown accomplice allegedly saw that Nyakutera had a bag full of money as he counted it and decided to rob him at gunpoint.
The two allegedly ordered Nyakutera to lie on the floor and took away his money. Moyo allegedly shot Nyakutera at point blank range when he tried to grab his bag and the gunshots attracted the attention of scores of people outside the hotel.
Moyo was caught while his partner in crime fled. Members of the public meted out instant justice on him and he had the police to thank after they arrested him, rescuing him from the clutches of the angry mob.
A bloodied and semi-conscious Nyakutera was rushed to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH). A vendor, who witnessed members of the public beating Moyo up, said it was a miracle that he was still alive. “They mercilessly pummelled him while others used an assortment of weapons to viciously rain blows on him,” said the vendor who declined to be named.
The vendor said some people grabbed metal stands used to display newspaper banners and whacked Moyo in the face while others hit him with stones.
“It was a scary free for all and it’s a miracle he survived. The police arrived swiftly and cuffed him. He looked dead but the crowd shouted that he was playing possum,” said the vendor.
The angry mob followed as police officers escorted Moyo to the Central Police Station, demanding that he be released to them. Officials at the hotel said the two suspects had been staying at the hotel for three days. “The two booked a room here three days ago. We had no idea what they were up to and we were shocked to hear gun shots upstairs.
“Fortunately there were police officers nearby. They immediately disarmed them and managed to arrest one,” said a worker who asked not to be named. Lawrence Sibanda, a forex dealer, said Moyo and his accomplice could have been monitoring Nyakutera and knew that he had a lot of money.
“I think they had been watching him from a distance and when they realised that he had a lot of money, they called him to their room. Nyakutera didn’t suspect anything and quickly went there. He was carrying his toddler in his arms.
“In less than 20 minutes we heard gunshots and Nyakutera screamed for help. When we looked up the balcony he was bleeding from the arm. Alert police officers rushed to the scene. They apprehended one of the criminals – albeit after he got a sound beating from the crowd,” said Sibanda.
Moyo was taken to hospital under police guard. Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango said: “I can confirm that we arrested one of the suspected armed robbers who is assisting police with investigations.”
When The Chronicle arrived at the hotel at about 4.30PM, blood was still dripping from one of the hotel’s balconies on the first floor to the ground. Nyakutera’s daughter kept saying: “Bamdubulile ubaba (they shot my dad.)”