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Robbers loot $55 million in Bulawayo

by Staff reporter
11 Jul 2021 at 10:39hrs | Views
ARMED robbers in Bulawayo stole cash and valuables worth a total of $54 962 918 between March and June this year, in a four-month crime wave that saw 32 armed robberies committed around the city.

Bulawayo has seen an unprecedented outbreak of armed robberies this year, with increasing fears that it is becoming a hotbed for violent crime. Bulawayo police spokesperson, Inspector Abednico Ncube said the crime spree followed a lull in the first two months of 2021, as the city's crime levels plummeted due to a nationwide lockdown necessitated by a spike in Covid-19 cases following the festive season.

According to statistics availed to Sunday News by police, there were 10 armed robberies in March, with armed gangs making off with goods and cash worth $28 935 336. Police have subsequently managed to recover $328 000 from that. In April, armed robbers stole goods and cash valued at $16 484 224 in eight separate instances and of that amount, $5 040 000 has been subsequently recovered by law enforcement officers.

In May, four robberies saw $7 167 223 in cash and goods being stolen and police are yet to recover anything from that loot. In June, $2 376 135 in cash and goods was lost in 10 incidents and to date, $3 400 has been recovered. In total, police have so far managed to recoup $5 371 400 from all armed robberies while 17 arrests have been made.

Meanwhile, between March and June this year, 23 murder cases were committed, with five in March, six in April, nine in May and three in June. Twelve people were arrested. The robberies in Bulawayo and elsewhere around the country have seen authorities take notice, with President Mnangagwa last week warning armed gangs that they would soon be brought to book as law enforcement authorities are on high alert.

In an interview with Sunday News, Inspector Ncube said police were hot on the trail of the criminals, with indications that some of them operated around the country.

"This week as we speak, we got a lot of information that is bringing us closer to some of these criminal elements that have been terrorising citizens. So, we are already making a lot of progress and soon those that have not been apprehended will also be behind bars.

"What we have seen is that there are links between these criminal elements and the links go from Bulawayo to Gweru and Kwekwe all the way up to Harare. You will notice we sometimes end up apprehending some of these robbers that would have committed crimes in Harare. We follow them all the way there and that is all a result of the meticulous investigative work undertaken by police officers," he said.

Insp Ncube said they have also managed to establish how some of the arms used in the commission of crimes were brought into the country from neighbouring countries.

"So far, we have managed some good leads and investigations are bearing fruit. For example, we have managed to establish how firearms are smuggled into the country for use in these illegal activities. We have increased the number of plainclothes policemen so as to investigate and prevent some of these robberies. This is one of the reasons why we are saying that the public should not panic because law enforcement officers are well on top of the situation," he said.

Insp Ncube advised members of the public against disclosing any future financial plans to family or friends, as this could attract the unwanted attention of criminal elements.

"People tend to think aloud and inform those around them of their plans and we are saying people should be more guarded about information concerning their wealth or valuables. If you go and tell people that you have plans to buy a house next year, it opens the door for robbers who then become aware that so and so has a lot of money. We advise members of the public not to disclose personal information and this applies even to their close friends because in the end it compromises their safety and security, as it alerts unscrupulous elements to the fact that they may have cash or valuables," he said.

In some of the reported cases, in March, a gang armed with a pistol struck at a Trek fuel station in Gwabalanda suburb and got away with US$15 300 and R800. In April six armed robbers hit the World Food Programme (WFP) and Econet Warehouse and went away with thousands of dollars in various currencies and a Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle while a few weeks later, armed men fatally shot a female cashier at a liquor store at Ascot Shopping Centre.

She was shot twice in the head.

In another case, armed robbers got away with seven boxes full of cash after robbing a cash-in-transit van at a Choppies Supermarket in Parklands suburb.

Last week, a gang of armed robbers struck at a house in North End suburb, robbing a family of over US$12 000 and R4 500 that belonged to a burial society.

Source - sundaynews