Rogue soldiers detained as police swoop on 9 armed robbery suspects

The nine armed robbery suspects including four police officers arrive at the Harare Magistrates Court on April 16, 2024
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HARARE – Police have arrested nine suspected armed robbers, who include four serving soldiers I connection with a spate of robberies in Harare, Murehwa and Shamva.

The group comprises Innocent Chawaguta, 37, listed in court papers as accused number one, Tafadzwa Chirinda Charute, 36, Owen Mbayi, 37, Promise Mussa, 36, Tapiwa Chigwaze, 39, Winston Matizanadzo, 46, Kamuriwo Mudziwaona, 39, Farai Chauke, 38, and Simbarashe Vhazhure, 33.

Mbayi, Mussa, Chauke and Vhazhure are employed by the Zimbabwe National Army and stationed in Harare.

Allegations are that on 13 April 2024 at around 8 in the evening, the complainant, Miriam Ratisai (68) was sitting in her kitchen and she opened the kitchen door to throw out some rubbish.

Suddenly six unknown black male adults entered into the house and one of them armed with a pistol.

They used some shoe laces to tie Ratisai’s son Munashe Ratisai who was sitting in the kitchen at the time.

The gang allegedly demanded some cash before proceeding to ransack the whole house and stealing approximately US$650 which was in the piggy bag.

The suspects also stole three mobile phones (Samsung, Iphone 11 and a Google pixel) and a Lenovo laptop.

They then went outside the house where they searched a Toyota Corolla Bubble but stole nothing.

The gang members then took the car keys with them.

Munashe Ratisai later managed to untie himself and make a report at Highlands police station.

According to the state, total value stolen is US$2,350 and nothing was recovered.

The court heard that on 14 April 2024, Munashe used his mobile tracker on the stolen Ipad and tracked to house number 22676 Unit H, Seke, Chitungwiza.

Found at the house was Melody Mudzimurema, 33, who is accused 1 (Chaguta)’s girlfriend.

Detectives conducted a search in the house leading to the recovery of logic iPad, Lenovo tablet and a CZ 9mm pistol hidden under the bed in a black satchel.

Upon further questioning, Mudzimurema said the property belonged to accused 1 who had left the home for the Harare city centre.

Detectives waited for Chaguta to return at around 7PM, and arrested him immediately.

Chaguta later implicated his other colleagues who are listed in court papers as accused 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 , 7 and 8.

Detectives used Chaguta to lure accused 2 to Chinhamo Trek Service Station.

Accused 2 eventually arrived in a white Honda Fit registration number AES 4368 in the company of one Tinashe NFPK (alias T1) who fled from the scene and is likely to have been shot before he disappeared in the bushes.

Accused number two attempted to bolt from the vehicle and he was shot on the abdomen.

Their arrest led to the recovery of nine firearms which were used in the series of robberies committed in the three areas.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi told journalists that the suspects were also linked to an armed robbery where US$142,000 was seized in Harare’s Eastlea suburb.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms the arrest of nine suspects and the recovery of nine firearms.

“These suspects have been involved in robbery cases in Harare, Murehwa and Shamva.

“One of the cases includes the one which occurred at J&P security offices in Eastlea in 2022 where over US$142,000 was stolen.

“The suspects are clearing five armed robbery cases initially but I want to assure Zimbabweans that as investigations continue, more cases in which these suspects were involved are going to be revealed,” he said.

Responding to reports that some of the suspects are military officers, Assistant Commissioner Nyathi said police would deal with all armed robbery suspects professionally.

“The position of the security services has been that anyone involved in criminal acts will be dealt with professionally,” he said.

The suspects appeared before Harare magistrate Taurai Manuwere who did not ask them to plead.

They were remanded in custody to May 2, 2024.

Anesu Chirenje appeared for the State. – ZimLive