AFM robbery case opens

HARARE - Five suspected armed robbers who pounced on Apostolic Faith Mission’s Waterfalls church and stole cash before raping a woman were tracked using a stolen cellphone given to a wife of one of the robbers, a Harare court heard yesterday.

Edmore Murambidzi, 23, Gift Kupa Mudamburi, 40, Alouis Nyamadzawo, 41, Munyaradzi Chikarara, 40, and Talent Madzimba are being charged with four counts of robbery.

They are appearing before Harare regional magistrate Lucy Mungwari.

Nyamadzawo, Chikakarara and Madzimba have since fled the court’s jurisdiction after successfully getting bail at the High Court, leaving Murambidzi and Mudamburi to stand trial for the four counts.

David Chikungwa, one of the arresting details, said they engaged the network provider and managed to track down a phone that had been stolen at the scene.

“After we were told that among the stolen goods was a cellphone, we engaged the network provider and established that the phone was in use. Further investigations led us to Murambidzi’s mother-in-law whose line had been inserted in the phone,” Chikungwa said.

“We managed to track her down in Mbare and when we got there and advised her about the purpose of our visit, she said her line was now being used by her daughter who happened to be Murambidzi’s wife. We then proceeded to Budiriro and she told us that the phone had been given to her by Murambidzi as a gift.”

The court heard that Murambidzi was subsequently arrested and implicated the rest of gang before they were apprehended by the police.

However, Murambidzi now claims that he bought the alleged phone at Flyover in Mbare and does not remember the seller.

The complainants are Pfumai Mukodzani, 44, Fani Mereki, 40, Keith Brandon Mereki and the 29-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted.

Prosecutor Ephraim Zinyandu alleged that on August 28, last year, the gang armed themselves with a pick, two hammers and iron bars before driving to the AFM church.

The court heard that upon arrival, Murambidzi and his accomplices confronted the security guard, one Mukodzani who was sitting in a parked Toyota Coaster.

One of the accused persons struck Mukodzani with a hammer on the head, demanding to know where the church safe was kept.

It was alleged that Mukodzani shouted for help but was continuously assaulted and threatened with death for making noise.

The caretaker’s son Keith Mereki heard the noise and woke up his father Fani who was sleeping in another room.

Murambidzi and his accomplices continued demanding to know the church safe’s location and tore a pillow case before using it to tie Fani and Mukodzani’s hands and legs.

The two were made to lie on the floor with their stomachs and Keith was forced to go around the church compound showing the robbers where the other occupants resided.

The court heard that Keith was made to lie under the bed of a 29-year-old woman whom they found sleeping with her two children.

That was when other gang members broke into the church office and stole $916 from the cash box.

One of the accused persons had remained behind in the woman’s house and pulled her pyjamas off before raping her.

The court heard that he only stopped raping the woman after being signalled that it was time to leave by his accomplices.

The gang reportedly loaded their loot into a Honda Aspire before fleeing the scene.

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