Sunday, 6 May 2018

BEITBRIDGE GANG ROBS MALAWIAN SANGOMA


NEVER rob an inyanga, especially from Malawi.

This advice rang true for a gang of five armed robbers that has been pouncing on motorists along the Beitbridge-Masvingo and Beitbridge-Bulawayo highways after they were finally arrested a few hours after stealing R98 000 cash and groceries worth R62 000 from an inyanga from Malawi near Beitbridge yesterday morning.

The traditional healer was reportedly travelling from South Africa to his native country. The suspects were arrested by a police crack team at around 4am soon after pouncing on the Malawian at a rail level crossing about six kilometres out of the border town along the Beitbridge-Masvingo Road.

It is reported that four members of the gang; Believe Shumba Chipanga (33), Luckmore Masochaaka Mlakalaka (29), Elisha Bhunu aka John (31) and David Ratsauka aka Tinashe Moyo (25) were recently released from prison under the Presidential Amnesty as part of decongesting the country’s prisons. The fifth suspect, Gift Shonhiwa (29) is reportedly a new recruit to the squad. Police officer commanding Beitbridge District Chief Superintendent Francis Phiri confirmed the arrest. At least 13 cases of robberies along the road have been reported in the past few months.

“We have been tracking the gang for a while and they ran out of luck after robbing a Malawian traditional healer of cash and groceries. The gang used dangerous weapons that included knives to attack the victims. In some cases they would use huge torches to pose as locomotives at the rail level crossing to slow down traffic. In the current case, they used the same method to rob the Malawian who was in the company of two others when their vehicle had stopped at the rail level crossing,” he said.

The suspects, he said, normally hid the stolen goods in the bush for collection later. He said the Malawian had stashed the cash — R98 000 in sacks of sugar. According to Chief Supt Phiri, the accused persons went on to hide the sugar and groceries soon after pouncing on their victims. He said the matter was reported to the police who then arrested Chipanga in the town following a tip-off.

“Chipanga then led detectives to his accomplices resulting in the recovery of the money and the groceries from a bushy area near the rail level crossing. We believe they are linked to 13 cases of armed robbery which occurred at the same spot. Currently they are assisting the police with investigations pending their appearance in court,” said Chief Supt Phiri.

He said the police have deployed officers to deal with crime at all hotspots. He urged members of the public to share vital information with the police to reduce the recurrence of criminal activities in the area. Recently police bust a stock theft racket recovering three carcasses, loads of meat and arrested eight people in connection with the matter near the same rail level crossing. Four members of the gang have been jailed for an effective 15 years each while charges against four others were withdrawn for lack of evidence. Residents in Beitbridge said they were living in fear of the gang believed to be responsible for numerous incidents of mugging and theft in the border town. Sunday News

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