Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
POLICE have warned that they will descend heavily on armed robbery suspects following a spate of armed robberies, some of them carried out in movie style fashion, across the country.
The suspects, who police say at times torture or kill their victims, have targeted mostly residential areas, business premises and buses ferrying cross border traders.
National police spokesperson Commissioner Charity Charamba said such crimes must come to a stop.
“Those bent on committing crime should be warned that the full wrath of the law will be applied fairly without fear or favour.
“Members of the public are warned to take extra precautions and ensure that their doors and windows are properly secured so that criminals do not have easy access to their premises,” she said.
“We encourage members of the public to deposit their cash and valuables with banks to minimise cases of robbery at home and business premises.”
Comm Charamba said the police are working 24/7 and have managed to account for some of the notorious robbers who have killed, injured, maimed people and got away with property worth over $100 000.
Police have also busted nine members of a 15-man armed robbery gang which went on a rampage, committing armed robberies across the country.
The syndicate committed the crimes during the period extending from July 18, 2018 until their arrest between January 30 and February 11, 2019.
The gang members, who committed armed robberies cases in Chegutu, Chinhoyi, Harare and Kwekwe, were identified as :
Tinaye Rice (27), Maxist Maruta (33), Godknows Shumba (39), Mugove Chimuti (31), Tinashe Munhanga (39), Cried Munhangu (33), Musarurwa Chikwari (34), Calvin Gasura (26) and Dzingirayi Gariyawo (34).
“The suspects were moving around as a syndicate of up to 15 people and would scale the security walls of premises and pounce on unsuspecting occupants.
“They would then threaten and in some circumstances shoot at their victims and detain them at gun point while ransacking the residential or business properties of the victims,” said Comm Charamba.
She said in some cases they would undress their victims and bundle them into their getaway vehicles to delay follow ups by the police.
Comm Charamba said in Chegutu, the robbers were so daring to the extent of kidnapping and robbing police officers who had attended a scene at a company and engaged in an exchange of fire with the officers.
“The armed robbers targeted firearms, plasma television sets, cell phones, cash and vehicles which they later used to commit other crimes.
“Upon their arrest the following property was recovered; Peugeot 406, Mazda B2200, Toyota Hilux, Audi and a Mercedes Benz ML320 which was recently acquired by one of the suspects. Live ammunition, CZ pistol, FN Rifle, Norinco pistol, Vizor pistol, explosives and detonating cables, identity and bank particulars of some victims were also recovered,” she said.
In a related case, police recently arrested four suspected armed robbers who were targeting cross border buses among other spate of armed robberies, murder and attempted murder cases which occurred between December 17, 2018 and January 29, 2019.
Comm Charamba said the suspects committed the offences along the Masvingo -Beitbridge Highway and Harare – Chirundu Road among other areas.
“They would board buses posing as genuine travellers and upon reaching secluded places, the suspects would pounce on other passengers in the buses threatening to shoot them unless they surrendered their valuables.
The four suspects, Jabson Shonhe (39), Augustus Sibanda (29), Freddy Genotry Chibwana (35) and Samuel Moyo have since appeared in court where they were convicted and sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison.
The trials for murder and attempted murder are on-going.
At about 10 PM last Monday, along Bulawayo – Beitbridge Road, five armed men, using the same modus operandi, robbed a Brooklyn Bus which was on its way to Beitbridge with cross border traders.
They got away with $16 310 bond notes, R 198 751, USD525 and other valuables including cell phones.
Comm Charamba said: “We are urging transport operators to be aware of this new trend whereby criminal elements are now targeting and stealing from passengers and bus crews.
“They should therefore be more vigilant and introduce security measures to capture passengers’ identity particulars and ensure that strict searches are conducted before passengers board buses.”
Comm Charamba said bus crews are encouraged to stop at designated points for refreshments or rest and to engage police on security matters.
Meanwhile, police are investigating a case of armed robbery which occurred in Milton Park, Harare recently where four armed robbers pounced on a residential premise and stabbed one occupant.
The robbers went on to ransack the house and stole a total of USD 23 220, R 1200, 150 and 690 bond notes among other valuables.
They damaged vehicles parked in the yard before fleeing.