Armed robbers attack Zimbabwe-bound bus, killing 2

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Two women were shot dead and a third seriously injured when three armed men attacked a Zimbabwe-bound bus in the Bela-Bela area of Limpopo Province of South Africa yesterday, and now the Zimbabwe Consulate in Johannesburg has engaged the South African authorities to establish the full facts.

In an interview yesterday, Zimbabwe’s Consul General to Johannesburg, Mrs Melody Chaurura, said: “We heard about the incident in the morning. So, we are having a team on the ground working together with host government authorities to establish more facts on this very sad incident. We will update once we establish all the details, including identities of the deceased.”

Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, said police were yet to make any arrest and called on anyone with information to approach the nearest police station.

“The police in Bela-Bela have opened two counts of murder, one of attempted murder and one armed robbery after two women were shot dead and another injured while travelling in a bus in the early hours of Thursday morning,” said Brig Mojapelo.

The three robbers boarded a Harare-bound bus at Bosman Bus Terminus in Pretoria, pretending to be passengers. The bus belonging to Copperbelt Bus Company left Pretoria around 1am yesterday.

“As it passed Mantsole weighbridge along the N1 road, one of the suspects allegedly produced a firearm and shot through the front windscreen, forcing the driver to pull over,” said Brig Mojapelo.

“The other suspects shot three women, instantly killing two and critically injuring the other. All other passengers were then ordered to disembark and lie on the ground. After which, the trio robbed them of their belongings, including cash, cell phones and passports.”

He said the robbers then left in a getaway car that had been trailing the bus.

Limpopo police commander Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe yesterday issued an order for the police to hunt and bring the suspects to book.

Beitbridge resident and regular traveller Mr Zibusiso Ndlovu said the recurrence of robberies shootings on the route now requires that bus owners should consider installing metal detectors on bus doors.

“In addition, parliamentarians should also craft laws that will allow the cross-border bus operators to use security equipment or to employ security personnel (who will play undercover roles in buses) to safeguard passenger lives,” he said.

Of late Zimbabwean cross-border buses have become a target of violent crimes between Pretoria and Polokwane. Over 15 buses have been attacked by armed gangs in the last 24 months.