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Gunmen demand $20 000 ransom from mine owner in Gwanda

By Whinsley Masara

A mine-owner in Gwanda is lucky to be alive after his former employee allegedly ganged up with three men to kidnap, torture and shoot him in both legs before driving away in his car.

The United Bulawayo Hospitals where Nkosilathi Khuphe is admitted
The United Bulawayo Hospitals where Nkosilathi Khuphe is admitted

The gang is still at large.

Narrating his ordeal from his hospital bed at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) yesterday, Mr Nkosilathi Khuphe (24) of Koodsvale Farm Stampmill, Mopane, said one of the bullets is still lodged in his thigh.

He said Obvious Chinhoyi of Phakama suburb — his former worker, called him on Tuesday morning claiming he had about 200 grammes of gold that he wanted to sell.

“Within 30 minutes of receiving the call, I arrived at Abe Mine turn-off along Gwanda-Beitbridge Road where we had agreed to meet,” said Mr Khuphe.

He said he found Chinhoyi already waiting and got out of the vehicle to speak to him.

“Before I said anything, Chinhoyi whistled and three men emerged from the nearby bush and attacked me. They removed my shoes and used the laces to tie my hands and feet,” he said.

One of the suspects has since been identified as Telmore Dube while the other two are still unknown.

Mr Khuphe said two of the men produced guns and the gang demanded $20 000 to “spare his life.” He said he pleaded with the men not to shoot him.

“The guys looked vicious and merciless. I told them I had no money on me but I could get the money from a friend. I feared they would shoot me and leave me to die in the bush,” said Mr Khuphe who appeared to be in pain.

He said they covered his eyes and mouth with tape before bundling him into the boot of his Honda Accord.

“I told them to go to Maphani Business Centre where I would collect the money. Instead of going straight there, they drove to a white man’s place, who they also intended to rob,” he said.

Mr Khuphe said the white man is known as Mr Bronson and once there, the gangsters disembarked from the vehicle and went to the house.

“They left the car a few metres away from the house. I untied my hands, picked a hammer that was in the boot and started to bang on the sides of the car.

“They were furious as they rushed back to the car. They re-tied my hands and threatened to shoot me for scaring Mr Bronson away,” said Mr Khuphe.

He said the gang forced him to drive the car to avoid suspicion as it was broad daylight.

“They cursed me for making them lose what they called a big jackpot at Mr Bronson’s,” said the businessman.

Mr Khuphe said he drove to a friend, Mr James Mpofu.

He said he asked for money from him with the two men pressing their guns into his ribs from the back seat.

“I tried to use sign language to show my friend all was not well but he failed to comprehend. He said he could only give me $1 300,” said Mr Khuphe.

He said the gang was livid as they drove away with the money.

Mr Khuphe said they threatened to shoot him if he did not raise $20 000.

“I suggested that we go to my brother’s place for more cash. Upon arrival I used signs to show his mine manager that I was being robbed,” he said.

He said the mine manager said they should go to a point where there was network to make a call for someone to bring the money.

“The gang accompanied us. As I walked next to one of the armed guys, I tripped and he thought I wanted to run away.

“The two fired at me from point blank and the first shots missed me. They both fired again and this time they shot me on both legs, ” said Mr Khuphe.

The businessman said the gang jumped into his car and sped off.

Police recovered the vehicle a few kilometres from the scene on the following day.

UBH acting chief executive officer, Mr Norman Sobhuza, yesterday said Khuphe underwent surgery on Wednesday and the first bullet was removed.

“We will remove the remaining one today,” said Mr Sobhuza.

Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele confirmed the armed robbery.

He said no arrests had been made by yesterday afternoon and investigations were underway. The Chronicle