By Patrick Chitumba
The late notorious robber and murderer Edmond Edgar Masendeke’s younger brother Andrew, arrested for allegedly robbing and kidnapping a police officer, has pleaded guilty.
The younger Masendeke and his three accomplices Tapiwa Chimuti (29), Anyway Madala (27) and Simbarashe Machiritsa (40) who are all from Ascot Infill high-density suburb in Gweru targeted a cop, miners and businesspeople in the Midlands province and Bulawayo getting away with more than $25 000, a vehicle and six rifles.
Two other suspects Matrimony Nyathi and Sydney Mangisi are still on the run.
Chimuti, Madala and Machiritsa have since been sentenced to a collective 188 years after being linked to a spate of armed robberies committed in Bulawayo, Zvishavane, Gweru, Shurugwi, Kwekwe and Kadoma. Chimuti was sentenced to 91 years, Madala 76 and Machiritsa 21.
Masendeke allegedly fled to Birchenough Bridge where he changed his name and started operating as pirate taxi driver. However, luck ran out for him when he was involved in an accident in Chipinge and killed one person on the spot.
He was arrested after police got a tip off.
Masendeke, of Mukarati Village under Chief Mukaro in Gutu, yesterday appeared before Gweru Regional Magistrate Mr Morgan Nemadire facing seven counts of robbery, unlawful entry, carjacking and kidnapping.
He pleaded guilty to all the counts and was remanded in custody to June 29 for sentencing.
The State led by Mr Ernest Mzembi alleged between February and June this year, Masendeke and his accomplices committed a series of robberies in the Midlands and Bulawayo and kidnapped a police officer.
Mr Mzembi alleged that on February 19 this year at around 8 PM, Masendeke robbed Sergeant Alfred Zvapera, a police officer stationed at Gokwe Traffic, before kidnapping him and his girlfriend.
He said Sgt Zvapera was driving a Toyota Noah in Mapfungautsi Extension high density suburb near Kambasha Business Centre in Gokwe when Masendeke and his accomplices stopped him purporting to be looking for transport.
The court heard that Sgt Zvapera, who was with his girlfriend Ms Faith Ngwenyenyi, stopped the vehicle and the accused persons immediately produced a pistol demanding money and other belongings.
Masendeke allegedly fired one shot in the air and ordered the complainant to hand over his vehicle keys to them.
Sgt Zvapera, the court heard, surrendered the keys and his police identity card, a Lenovo A2020 cellphone and $4.
Mr Mzembi said Masendeke and his accomplices forced the two into the vehicle and drove to Zesa offices where they ordered Sgt Zvapera to disembark from the vehicle and blindfolded him with a piece of cloth before stealing fuel which they put into the complainant’s vehicle.
Masendeke’s accomplices allegedly drove the vehicle to Bulawayo together with the complainants, where they kept them hostage for two days before releasing them.
Police recovered the vehicle and guns which were used during the robberies and the property has since been forfeited to the State.
The gang also robbed mines and business people of money, vehicles and rifles. The Chronicle