Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
THE Zimbabwe National Army has said one of the six notorious masked armed robbers, arrested in Gweru last week facing over 30 robbery cases involving over $500 000 in the Midlands capital, Value Mutizira, was discharged from the army for indiscipline in 2011.
Mutizira (40) and his eight-member gang allegedly armed themselves with a rifle and machetes to commit a spate of robberies in Gweru between February 1 and March 3.
In a statement, the army said it was incorrect to refer to Mutizira as a soldier.
“The fact of the matter is that Mutizira ceased to be a member of the force on 30 September 2011 after he was lawfully discharged for absenting himself from duty without official leave (AWOL) and other various cases of indiscipline.
“Mutizira was fired from the Army and is not a soldier anymore. Mutizira at one time served as a corporal, the rank he held until 2009 when he was reduced to the rank of private for indiscipline,” said the director army public relations, Colonel Alphios Makotore in a press release.
Appearing last week before Gweru magistrate Ms Miriam Banda facing unlawful entry into premises, armed robbery and theft of a motor vehicle charges were Tafara Tenson Muzanenhamo Maidza (34), Mutizira, Romeo Tinashe Mukwanda (31), Farirai Brandy (42) all from Gweru, Clive Javangwe (37) from Kadoma and Welcome Tawedzerwa Blessing Zhou (29) from Bulawayo.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Ms Madzudzu told the court that between February 1 and March 3, the accused persons in the company of two accomplices who are still at large allegedly hatched a plan to steal from the complainants.
She said they equipped themselves with a rifle, machetes and woollen masks and targeted residents of Southdowns, Southview, Lundi Park, Athlone and Northlea residential areas in Gweru.
“During the night they would proceed to the complainants’ places of residence, forced themselves into the houses, assaulting those who would have resisted and rob them of their property. The robbers were using the same modus operandi in all the 33 cases and the property stolen included cash, cellphones, television sets, motor vehicles which they used to carry the loot,” said Ms Madzudzu.
On March 15, the court heard that police allegedly received a tip off that Maidza was in possession of suspected stolen property at his place of residence.
“The police crack team reacted to the information leading to the arrest of Maidza who implicated his accomplices, Mutizira, Mukwanda, Brandy, Javangwe and Zhou.
“A further search was conducted at Maidza’s place of residence where a pair of handcuffs, a woollen black mask, an H-mobile cellphone were recovered,” said Ms Madzudzu.
Further searches were allegedly conducted at Javangwe and Mutizira’s place of residence.
“From Javangwe and Mutizira’s place of residences police recovered a stolen black Anker power bank and a travelling bag. The victims identified their belongings,” she said.
Ms Madzudzu said police recovered Mutizira’s Zimbabwe National Army identity card.
She said the value of the stolen property was $500 000 and some of it was recovered.
Police investigations are still ongoing and two of the robbers are still at large.