By Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu
A BEITRIDGE man, who was part of a five-men armed robber gang that robbed 32 Brooklyn Bus passengers of cash and property valued at about R200 000, $16 300 and US$340 in February, has been arrested while his accomplices are still at large.
Caston Tirivanhu (28) was not asked to plead last week when he appeared briefly before Gwanda magistrate, Mrs Nomagugu Sibanda facing an armed robbery charge.
He was remanded in custody to 25 April.
Prosecuting, Miss Faith Mutukwa said Tirivanhu and his accomplices robbed the passengers on 11 February at around 2am.
“On 11 February Tirivanhu and four others who are still at large boarded a Brooklyn Bus in Bulawayo that was bound for Musina in South Africa.
“At around 2am when the bus was near Irisvale along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road, Tirvanhu and his accomplices produced six pistols and fired warning shots and assaulted the passengers.
“They stole cellphones, cash and other valuables from the passengers all valued at R198 751, US$340 and $16 310. They stopped the bus and fled from the scene.
“The matter was reported to the police who carried out investigations leading to Tirivanhu’s arrest. He was arrested through a trail of stolen cellphones by use of service providers,” she said.
Miss Mutukwa said Tirivanhu was found in possession of four stolen cellphones that belong to some of the passengers and one of them was being used by his wife.
She said a call history that was obtained from Econet also showed that Tirivanhu and his wife had been using two of the four cellphones.
Miss Mutukwa said Tirivanhu was also found in possession of R7 100 and US$30. Tirivanhu and his accomplices boarded the bus which was on its way to Musina from Bulawayo under the pretext of being passengers and they were also booked and given tickets. Cross border travellers are increasingly being targeted by armed robbers while travelling in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The suspects prey on them because they will be carrying cash to buy goods in the neighbouring country. Three buses, Intercape, Intercity and Mzansi carrying Zimbabwean passengers have previously been robbed at gunpoint along the Musina- Johannesburg highway. Sunday News