Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Correspondent—
BULAWAYO police are preparing charges against nine men after two teachers and a third woman were raped at Luveve High School on Saturday night. Police raided several properties — including one in Esigodini — between Saturday night and yesterday in a dragnet which investigators believe could solve dozens of previous violent crimes, most of them committed in Cowdray Park high density suburb and surrounding areas. One of the suspects was shot by homicide detectives while trying to escape on Sunday morning after he was cornered at a drinking spot in Four Winds suburb.
Police sources said the suspect was shot in the leg as he tried to jump over a precast wall to evade arrest and is in hospital under police guard. Inspector Precious Simango of Bulawayo police said she could not release the suspects’ names yet.
“Investigations are underway and we can’t release their names as the process of identifying them is going on. I can say however that they’re all linked to the unlawful entry, theft, robbery and rape cases that have been happening in Cowdray Park and recently Luveve High School,” said Insp Simango.
She said the suspects were aged between 21 and 37 years of age. Police are appealing to Bulawayo residents who might have fallen victim to the suspected criminals to come forward and help solve old cases.
Insp Simango said during the raids, police recovered property including 17 cellphones, laptops, decoders, generators, DVD players and plasma television sets among other household goods.
Insp Simango said police investigations led them to Esigodini where they arrested their first suspect on Saturday. “The Esigodini suspect exposed his other accomplices who were found in different suburbs in Bulawayo,” said Insp Simango.
She said police were working to ensure that residents move freely in the city. A police source said after the first suspect exposed his accomplices, police roped in sniffer dogs to block the escape of the other suspects when they went for them.
The suspects, police say, raped women during the commission of robberies. On Saturday night, the gang raided Luveve High School and raped three women, two of them teachers, before stealing household goods.
In December, it is believed the same gang pounced on a Cowdray Park couple, smashing their vehicle windscreen with an axe which they also used to attack the man. They kidnapped the couple and gang-raped the woman in a bushy area, before stealing the pair’s cellphones.
Two days later, a South Africa-based public transporter who was trying to evade a police roadblock was also attacked by the suspects who gang-raped one of the women in his vehicle and stole R19,000 from another passenger.