By Whinsley Masara
Three masked, gun-wielding robbers raided a suspected usiphatheleni as she arrived at her home in Bulawayo on Thursday night, seizing $7 800 and R2 000 after firing two shots into the air.
The trio pounced as an unsuspecting maid, Miss Thembelani Tshuma (34) was closing the gate after Ms Ashly Mashungu (39) of Cowdray Park suburb, had just driven into her yard.
The armed robbers, who were all wearing black masks and black clothes sprayed the maid with an unknown substance which made her dizzy.
One of the raiders started assaulting Miss Tshuma, while the other one confronted Ms Mashungu, said to be an illegal foreign currency dealer. She had locked her vehicle’s doors as the third assailant stood guard.
When The Chronicle arrived at Ms Mashungu’s home yesterday morning, she had just left with detectives investigating the matter.
A visibly shaken shaken Miss Tshuma narrated their ordeal.
“I heard a gunshot and as I tried to quickly close the gate, a man dressed in dark clothes jumped into the yard, attacking me at once. He punched and kicked me to the ground while another one headed straight to Ms Ashly’s car.
“When Ms Ashly saw what was happening, she quickly locked herself inside her car. The third robber stood outside the gate,” she said.
Miss Tshuma said the one of the gunmen kept assaulting her, and was pressing her neck to the ground using his foot.
“The other one continued to fight Ms Ashly, threatening to shoot if she did not open her car door. He kept demanding money, shouting ‘sinike imali lapha wena mama, abantwana bethu balambile lapha wena uyambuluza’ (Give us money, our children are hungry and you are being arrogant),” she said.
The armed robber finally smashed the car window using the butt of his gun and fearing for her life, Ms Mashungu surrendered her handbag with her money.
“Left with no choice she handed over her handbag which contained $7 800 and R2 000 and her particulars. The robber handed over the handbag to his accomplice at the gate and returned to Ms Ashly to demand more money.
“She told them that it was all she had. When they persisted, threatening to shoot her, she told them more money was in town with someone. Thank God they didn’t insist and dashed out of the gate and fled into the darkness.”
A neighbour, Mr Themba Ndlovu said his son was threatened by one of the robbers.
“We heard the gunshots but unfortunately the noise from generators used by residents in the area confused us. We weren’t so sure if we were hearing screams because our neighbours’ generators made noise.
“When my son tried to check what was happening outside, a man with a gun told him to return indoors. By the time we went outside to see, the one outside Ms Mashungu’s gate signalled to his team and they fled. Our efforts to chase after them were vain as they disappeared into the darkness,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu blamed the increased criminal activities in the area on lack of electricity in their neighbourhood.
Bulawayo metropolitan province police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango could not be reached for comment.
The latest incident follows another armed robbery that occurred on Tuesday night at Engen Service Station in Bulawayo’s Tshabalala suburb.
The three armed robbers got away with $219 after seriously injuring a security guard who had attempted to disarm one of them.
In January, gunmen struck at an usiphatheleni’s house in Emganwini suburb getting away with R15 000, while in February four men robbed another money changer of R8 000 and $750 after assaulting him and firing a shot into the air in Beitbridge.
In April a two robbers allegedly raided an usiphatheleni at a house in Bulawayo’s Nketa 7 suburb.
They blindfolded a domestic worker and tied her up before getting away with $4 000. The Chronicle