CRIMINALS took advantage of wild celebrations that followed President Robert Mugabe’s resignation on Tuesday night to loot groceries from a Choppies Supermarket situated along Second Street in Mutare.
In the middle of the euphoria, suspected rank marshals raided the supermarket, attacked security guards and stole various wares.
Had it not been for the swift reaction of soldiers who quickly responded to the distress call at around 7pm, the supermarket could have been swept clean.
The Manica Post was doing street interviews at the adjacent Dangamvura bus termini when the looting began.
A group of rank marshals and others of like mind, sped down the bus termini headed straight to the supermarket shouting ‘Mphoko ngaatorerwe zvinhu’ in apparent reference to Vice President Phelezekela Mphoko, who has a controlling stake in Choppies Supermarkets.
Security guards manning the entrance of the supermarket sensed the impending danger and began closing the roller shutters. However, it was too late as the looters began throwing stones at the guards and in the process scaring them off the entrance. They found their way into the shop and began looting.
Some kombi drivers came and parked outside the supermarket, providing quick transport for the looters who jumped in and the vehicles sped off. The security guards who were cornered in the shop started using pepper sprays to fight off the looters but to no avail.
“The daring criminals turned violent, using any weapon at their disposal to attack the guards.
However the game changed when soldiers arrived at the scene. Upon seeing the uniformed forces, the criminals fled in different directions. Some of the suspects were arrested at the scene.
A staffer at the supermarket who was affected by the pepper spray was quickly taken to Mutare Provincial Hospital for treatment.
Soon after the incident, all shops and beer outlets in the city and surrounding locations were ordered to close to avoid further looting. Soldiers went around the city advising residents to stay indoors to contain the volatile celebrations that had been hijacked by criminals.
Police sources revealed that detectives were now analysing security camera footages at Choppies to identify suspects who partook in the looting. – Manica Post