Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
POLICE in Bulawayo have tracked down and arrested three armed robbery suspects who have been terrorising residents and have been linked to the robbery and murder of a Lobengula West businessman early this month, plus five other machete gang robberies.
The late businessman, Langelihle Dube, popularly known as Zonda, was brutally attacked and left for dead at his house when the axe and iron bar-wielding robbers pounced and went away with cell phones and US$25.
He was later declared dead by an ambulance crew.
Armed robberies involving axes and machetes have recently become common in the city with gangs breaking into homes and robbing residents of various household goods and money.
The attacks, according to victims, are violent and have left them traumatised.
The common thread connecting the arrested suspects is that the robberies were being perpetrated by a syndicate, as the three are connected to at least five armed robberies.
The three suspects appeared before magistrate Mr Shepard Mnjanja on Monday at Western Commonage Court and they are; Brian Moyo alias Smally (22) from Lupane District, Lucky Sibanda alias Makhekhe (26) of Lobengula West and Kelvin Njabulo Dube (30) from Pumula South, who is on remand for other armed robbery cases.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Abednico Ncube, said the suspects were arrested last Friday after one of them, Maxwell Mpofu, implicated three others in connection with the murder case.
He paid tribute to members of the public for providing information that led to the arrest of the gang.
“The arrest of the murder suspects is a result of a healthy police public relations and trust, which is being experienced in Bulawayo. We urge members of the public to continue working with the police to flush out and rid Bulawayo of bad elements,” said Insp Ncube.
A Chronicle news crew witnessed the arrival of the suspect gang at the courts in leg irons and some in handcuffs.
They were ushered into the halls of justice to be formally charged for their crimes and were taken to a holding room before they were called into the court to stand before Mr Mnjanja.
Like rolling subs during a basketball match, the three would exchange places on the accused bench as charges were read and they were asked if they understood them.
They were all remanded in custody until July 11 for trial.
Prosecuting, Miss Melisa Dube said Sibanda, Dube and Moyo alongside two others, who are still at large, allegedly hatched a plan to attack the late Mr Dube’s house in Lobengula West on June 8.
Dube was driving his black Honda Fit, which was reportedly used as a getaway car, with his accomplices inside, parked near Sikhulile High School in the suburb.
Miss Dube said, thereafter, Moyo, Sibanda and the two other accomplices disembarked and walked to Mr Dube’s house about 100 metres away.
She said the crew jumped over the precast wall and broke down the door at Mr Dube’s house and were heard by him and his wife Nobukhosi, who was sleeping in the bedroom.
“When Mr Dube went to the kitchen to investigate, he met the men armed with knives, iron bars and stones and they started to assault him all over the body, demanding cash,” said the prosecutor.
“On hearing the scuffle, Mrs Dube switched on her bedroom light and followed her husband. Sibanda and Moyo and two others are said to have shoved her back into the bedroom and she screamed, but was threatened with death if she continued.”
She then gave in and gave the armed robbers her husband’s wallet, which contained US$25, she said.
“They then took Mr Dube’s iTel cellphone and before leaving, stole Mrs Dube’s Hauwei cellphone and jumped over the wall,” said Miss Dube.
She said upon realising that the armed robbers had left Mrs Dube went out of the bedroom and found her husband in a pool of blood.
She called neighbours for help and then an ambulance was phoned, which then confirmed that he was dead.
The State objected to bail and the magistrate remanded the trio in custody to July 11 for trial.
Thereafter, Moyo and Dube were back on the dock, this time for their involvement in the armed robbery of a non-profit organisation, Council of the Blind, in Bulawayo’s city centre in April this year.
In this instance, they were there alongside McDonald Tinashe Majaya. Miss Dube said the three attacked the charitable organisation together with Vusumuzi Mguni and Oliver Mahlangu (both still at large).
“The gang stole a safe, which contained US$24 028, R49 060, P18 610, $9 650, a canvas bag with US$12 000, a cash box with US$8 000, laptops, a projector, a central processing unit, a Smith and Western Revolver pistol, a Toyota Land Cruiser and other valuables.
“The gang members, who were armed with an unidentified pistol, axes and an iron rod, stormed the premises and captured the security guard,” said Miss Dube.
Majaya, Moyo and Dube appeared again in the same court this time to answer for an armed robbery in Mahatshula North.
Miss Dube said the three in March teamed up with Maxwell Mpofu, also known as Tsano and lives in Old Lobengula, to force-open a bedroom door before assaulting Mr Wilson Mutandwa, who was asleep.
She said they ransacked his house and stole 65-inch, 50-inch and 32-inch plasma televisions, five cellphones and a sound bar all valued at US$4 766.
Mpofu appeared in the same court as he was involved in an armed robbery last month in Worringham, where he, Prince Ndlovu and Menelisi Mwaluwa (both in Khami Prison on remand for other crimes), alongside Welcome and Mengezi, who are still at large, are alleged to have committed two other armed robberies.
“On May 27 they robbed Mr Deniss Sibanda (52) at his home in Worringham, armed with two pistols, knives and an axe and robbed him of property and cash worth US$3 415 and only US$1 950 was recovered.
“The next day, the five attacked Ms Egnes Zinyika (76) of the same suburb and robbed her of US$1 075 in cash and cellphones and nothing was recovered. Ndlovu and Mwaluwa upon their arrest implicated Mpofu,” said Miss Dube.
One of the last crimes that Mpofu, Moyo and Sibanda were implicated in was committed on June 22, when they and Brian Kasongola and Polite Dube, alongside Mengesi and Madzibaba, both at large, when armed with matches attacked Allan Madyiwa and George Magondo both of Old Lobengula.
“They forced their way into the house where the two victims both lived and demanded cash and Madyiwa and Magondo handed over cash and cellphones amounting to US$420 and R3 000 and $50 000,” said Miss Dube.
The State opposed bail because Mpofu, Moyo and Sibanda were facing murder charges for the Lobengula West case in June.
Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi