Wynne Zanamwe, Midlands Reporter
THREE notorious armed robbers who terrorised miners and businesspeople in the Midlands province and Bulawayo getting away with more than $25 000, a vehicle and six rifles, have been sentenced to a combined 188 years in prison.
Tapiwa Chimuti (29), Anyway Madala (27) and Simbarashe Machiritsa (40) who are related and stay at Ascot Infill high-density suburb in Gweru, were part of a six-member gang linked to a spate of armed robberies committed in Bulawayo, Zvishavane, Gweru, Shurugwi, Kwekwe and Kadoma.
Three other members of the gang; Andrew Masendeke, Matrimony Nyathi and Sydney Mangisi are still at large.
Chimuti was sentenced to 91 years, Madala 76 and Machiritsa 21.
Police recovered the vehicle and guns which were used during the robberies and the property has since been forfeited to the State.
The three accused were convicted on their own pleas by Gweru regional magistrate Mr Morgan Nemadire.
Chimuti was convicted of 17 counts of armed robbery and was sentenced to 91 years in prison.
Mr Nemadire suspended 14 years on condition Chimuti restitutes some of his victims $4 401.
A further 10 years of his sentence were suspended on condition of good behaviour.
Effectively he will serve 67 years in prison.
Madala was convicted of 13 counts of armed robbery and sentenced to 76 years imprisonment.
Seven years were suspended on condition the accused person restitutes some of his victims $983.
Furthermore 10 years of his sentence were suspended on condition of good behaviour leaving him with 59 effective years in prison.
Machiritsa who was the eldest of the trio was convicted of eight counts of armed robbery and sentenced to 21 years imprisonment. One year was suspended for five years on condition he does not, during the period, commit a similar offence.
In passing sentence Mr Nemadire said as relatives, Machiritsa should have reprimanded the young ones.
“As relatives and as the eldest, accused number three (Machiritsa) was in a position to reprimand the two accused persons who asked him to join them after they had already robbed a number of people,” said Mr Nemadire.
“The court acknowledges that the accused persons have families to take care of, have asked for lenient sentences and are first offenders but their offences deserve the most severe punishment.”
Prosecutor Mr Lloyd Mavhiza told the court that the police were still investigating the murders of two security guards in Kadoma and Zvishavane that have been linked to the gang.
Mr Mavhiza said on January 17, the gang wearing masks and gloves raided Chaka Grocery Shop in Makusha suburb, Shurugwi, and demanded cash at gunpoint.
They got away with $15.
He said the gang also went to Besta Mine which is located at Princess Farm in Shurugwi where they stole a 22 Winchester rifle, a 22H Lithgow rifle, a 12 bore Franchi short gun, a Theodor Bergmann shotgun and 16 shotgun live rounds as well as a pair of Hi-Tec shoes, a pair of Adidas shoes, a pair of green sandals, VW Golf motor vehicle and $8 270.
Mr Mavhiza said the property and money had a combined value of $14 120.
The court heard that the robbers armed with a 303 rifle and a Star pistol went on a robbery spree terrorising shop owners, miners and transporters in Gweru, Shurugwi, Kwekwe, Kadoma and Bulawayo.
They robbed their victims of electrical goods, cash, guns and live ammunition.
The three accused were arrested in Ascot Infill suburb in Gweru following a tip off from members of the public.
Detectives recovered household property which included beds, television sets, electrical gadgets, blankets and guns.
The trio has six pending cases of armed robbery committed in Bulawayo.