By Temba Dube
BULAWAYO – Three men walked into the Maphisa branch of Agribank yesterday and got away with more than $100,000 in cash at gunpoint. The incident happend at about 2PM.
The suspects locked the bank tellers and a woman who was making a withdrawal in a strong room before making good their escape.
Details of the robbery were sketchy as police immediately rounded up the tellers, security guards and a client who was in the bank. They were still at Maphisa Police station giving statements by 8PM last night.
Officials at the bank’s headquarters in Harare said the trio went into the bank just after lunch and pretended that they wanted to make a deposit.
“The three men strolled into the bank wearing jackets with hoods that were pulled up to cover their heads. There seemed nothing amiss because the weather was chilly. There are no security cameras in the banking hall. They pointed a gun at the teller saying they would not hesitate to shoot if he did not cooperate,” said the official.
The official said there was a woman who was conducting a transaction at the bank who got caught in the crossfire.
The source said the armed robbers force marched the client and teller to the manager’s office.
“The manager had just come from having lunch when they burst into his office and threw a bag at him, ordering him to fill it up with cash. One of them emptied the cash register as the others force-marched the manager to the bank’s vault,” the source said.
The suspects allegedly forced the manager to open the vault at gunpoint before they went inside and filled a big bag and a smaller one with an assortment of foreign currency amounting to about $100,000.
They then closed the door to the strong room with the manager, the teller and the woman inside.
“The door can only be opened from the outside. A relative to one of the workers arrived at the bank minutes later and started shouting when he could not see anyone. The captives started banging on the door and shouting for help until he let them out,” said another official.
The official said the precision with which the robbery was committed and the fact that it happened just when there was a large amount of money, makes it possible that it was an inside job.
Vendors outside the premises told Chronicle they did not notice the robbers as they left the bank. They said if there was a getaway car, no one saw it.
“We were not even aware that the bank had been robbed until we saw armed police officers arriving and asking us questions,” said a vendor.