Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
FOUR suspected serial armed robbers — out on bail facing 24 armed robbery charges involving cash, vehicles, guns and jewellery — were shot dead during a shootout with police in Kwekwe.
The suspects were travelling in a Toyota Hiace when detectives pounced on them near Delta Beverages, Kwekwe depot, along Mbizo Road late on Wednesday.
Eyewitnesses said after noticing the detectives behind them, the robbers allegedly opened fire resulting in police firing back.
When this news crew arrived at the scene there were four bodies on the tarmac whilst blood was all over the road and their Toyota Hiace was riddled with bullet holes.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said four armed robbers were shot dead and five were arrested.
Two of them escaped with gunshot wounds.
Asst Comm Nyathi said another robber is admitted at a local hospital under police guard.
He said police recovered the Toyota Hiace that was being used by the gang as well as three pistols and 12 rounds of ammunition.
“On July 17 police detectives acting on information caught up with the armed robbers in Kwekwe and the suspects immediately opened fire at the officers whilst trying to flee in their getaway Toyota Hiace. Police returned fire, gave chase and managed to arrest five of the suspects namely George Munyaradzi Machanyangwa (37), Harmony Nyathi (37), Polite Madamombe (34), Titus Mashava (42) and Michael Vioma (34). Two suspects Philip Mutasa and another known as Sean escaped with possible wounds. Four of the suspects succumbed to injuries they sustained during the exchange of gun fire with the police whilst the other is admitted at a local hospital. Police managed to recover the Toyota Hiace that was being used by the gang, three pistols and 12 rounds of ammunition,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said from October to date, the suspects allegedly committed a spate of armed robberies in and around Harare and in other parts of the country.
They allegedly targeted business and residential premises.
“Police detectives are investigating 24 recorded cases in which the suspects got away with large sums of cash US$84 345, ZW$30 814, ZAR 16 000, Mozambique Meticals 100 000, Pounds sterling 1 100; Dubai currency 2 000 and Chinese Yuan 4 860, jewellery, gold, motor vehicles, 18 cellphones, three iPhones and six pistols, one pellet gun, one shot gun and other valuables,” he said.
“The suspects who were out on bail for other cases which are pending before the courts had the audacity to continue engaging in criminal acts while disregarding bail provisions.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said during the alleged commission of the robbery offences, the suspects would cover their faces with masks and threaten victims with firearms.
In one such incident, he said, the armed robbers allegedly shot and injured a police officer who was reacting to a report where the suspects were found in the process of robbing a business premise at Mabamba Complex, Chitungwiza Town Centre.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police have stepped up surveillance, intelligence gathering and will not tolerate the proliferation of armed robbery gangs.
He said criminal elements have themselves to blame for their actions as police will not hesitate to pounce on them.
“Police are therefore pursuing all reported robbery cases in the country and appeal for information which may lead to the arrest and prosecution of known and unknown robbery suspects,” he said.
Meanwhile, Asst Comm Nyathi said police are aware that there are some members of the public who are allegedly engaging in illegal foreign currency dealings purporting to be members of the police service.
“The police service is there to promote the policies of the Government and any elements that are bent on bringing the name of the organisation into disrepute will be dealt with accordingly. Those who engage in criminal acts while purporting to be detectives in civilian attire will have themselves to blame as police will certainly arrest them. Members of the public should be careful and cautious when dealing with some unruly individuals in society who commit crime under the guise of being police officers on an operation,” he said.