Robbers strike under guise of Operation Restore Legacy

HARARE - A robbery-convicted cop and his gang reportedly stormed into a Harare businessman’s premises and subdued him until he surrendered $91 000 with, a Harare court heard yesterday.

They claimed to be soldiers on a State-sanctioned operation.

Fortune Sibanda, 31, was jailed five years for robbery on September 18 this year but was released on bail pending appeal by the High Court.

At that time, Sibanda — who had served eight years in the police force — connived with another cop Kundai Mukwarimba, 35, Bekezela Masuku, 44, a police special constabulary, Dickson Morosi, 32, Chris Kadungure alias Butter Makiyi, 46, and Kelvin Makiyi, 26, to commit the first count of robbery.

The gang was sent to jail after mounting a fake roadblock at Hudson Road in Belvedere where they robbed an Indian investor of $56 800.

Yesterday, he appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa and was remanded in custody. He was advised to apply for bail at the High Court.

Soon after committing the latest robbery, Sibanda reportedly bought an Isuzu Bighorn.

In the current matter, prosecutor Linda Gadzikwa alleged that on November 28, Sibanda, in the company of Elvis Machinga, Vengai Shoko, Gift Chimuka, Banga, Matuke, Ranga and others whose names are not yet known to the police, hatched a plan to rob the complainant.

The court heard that Sibanda and his accomplices drove to 108 West Road, Avondale West, Harare in a white van and confronted the security guard who manned the offices pretending to members of the Zimbabwe National Army military police looking for accommodation.

It was alleged that the gang suddenly produced pistols and ordered the security guard to surrender gate keys.

After gaining entry into the premises, Sibanda lied that they were on a State sanctioned operation and wanted to interview the complainant but later left after failing to locate him.

The court heard that when Sibanda returned to the premises on November 29, he reportedly stormed into complainant’s office and accused him of dealing with former ministers Ignatius Chombo and Saviour Kasukuwere.

They claimed that the complainant had been sponsoring the G40 Zanu PF faction in a conspiracy to assassinate President Emmerson Mnangagwa, money laundering and hoarding cash among other allegations.

The complainant and his secretary Louise Smith were put under arrest and subdued.

Sibanda and his accomplices ransacked the premises and took $15 200, 410 Singapore dollars, 3 050 Dirhams, 16 000 Thai Bhat and 4 000 Hong Kong dollars.

Smith and her boss were dragged into a blue Hyundai Sonata before being driven to Rainbow Towers car park and further to the conference centre.

Five more accused persons emerged and threatened to detain the complainant and his secretary before forcibly taking $6 000 from his wallet.

They continued threatening to subject the complainant to a thorough beating on his buttocks if he refused to disclose where he kept more money.

The complainant succumbed to the pressure and revealed that he was keeping money at his Gift Investments Company at number 9, Hood Road, Southerton in Harare.

Sibanda then ordered the complainant to summon his wife who had keys to that premises and one of the accused persons took control of her car and drove to Gift Investments.

The gang ransacked the premises and stole $70 000 from a safe before proceeding to his house in Borrowdale where they searched the place for more loot.

The court heard that Sibanda and his accomplices held the complainant, receptionist and his wife hostage while they went around town before giving him $4 500 and ordering him to leave the country immediately.

The victims were dropped off at an open space near Harare Show Grounds before Sibanda and his accomplices drove away with the loot.

A total of US$90 832, 3 050 Dirhams, 16 000 Thai Bhat and 4 000 Hong Kong dollars was recovered.