Monday, 18 July 2016


THREE gun-wielding robbers allegedly struck at a Roman Catholic Church, tied up a priest and got away with about $11,000 and a Toyota Hilux. The robbery occurred on Saturday around 9PM at St Charles Lwanga Catholic Mission in Ndolwane area, Bulilima District. Sources close to the church told The Chronicle the three men hog-tied and gagged Father Sony Xavier before locking him up in his house, as they got away.

They force-marched the priest around his house, which is located within the church premises while holding a pistol to his head, the sources said. The gunmen, they added, ordered him to disclose the location of the church’s safe and forced the priest to open it.
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Philani Ndebele yesterday said he was yet to receive full details of the incident. “I received communication about an incident of an armed robbery which occurred at a Roman Catholic Church in Ndolwane area but I’m yet to receive a detailed report on what exactly happened,’’ he said.
Father Xavier said his harrowing ordeal lasted about 30 minutes. He said his captors were so aggressive, he thought they would kill him. The priest said the robbers gained access into his unlocked house through a kitchen door.
The three men, he said, were wearing woollen hats but he failed to recognise their faces. “My house doesn’t have electricity and as a result I use a generator. “The armed robbers gained access and one of them held a gun to my head. They tied my hands together and they led me from one room to another and ordered me to show them where I kept money and other valuables.
“They stole about $11,000 that was earmarked for building a church in Madlambuzi. I also had a Toyota Hilux single cab vehicle registration number ABI 2634 which was parked outside and they fled in it,’’ said Father Xavier.
He said the three men ransacked the house as they searched for valuables. Father Xavier said they left him trussed on the floor. “I managed to loosen the rope around my hands with my teeth and luckily they had left my cellphone behind so I used it to call someone within the community.
“That was when villagers came to my aid and they alerted the police who attended the scene. I was very shaken. “I was even afraid to go out of the house on my own. That was why I first alerted community members,’’ he said.
Father Xavier said the trio held a gun to his head and repeatedly threatened to kill him. The area’s traditional leader Chief Masendu said he received a report about the incident, which he said had left the entire community terrified.
He said he hoped that the culprits would be arrested soon so that villagers would feel safe. “It’s shocking how people have lost their morals to an extent that they are now robbing churches. People are now scared that there are armed robbers who are on the loose and if they are apprehended it would be better,” he said. chronicle


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