By Freedom Mupanedemo
A seven-member gang armed with machetes, axes, iron bars and bicycle chains barricaded a business centre in Gokwe South before searching and robbing people at the shops, police have said.
According to witnesses, the violent gang also force-opened shops and bars, looting beers and anything alcoholic among other property.
The witnesses said the assailants who got away with cash, cellphones and alcohol assaulted and scolded their victims who had nothing in their possession.
“It was a traumatic 30-minute encounter with this machete gang as they would strike at will, assaulting and cursing victims who would be found with nothing valuable at hand.
“I lost a cellphone and US$5 which I had in my pocket but I felt for a colleague who they pounced on after me. I heard them assaulting him with chains while questioning him why he had nothing on him to take away. It was a crime to be found with nothing in your possession,” said Mr Maxwell Gondo one of the victims.
A teacher at a nearby school, Mr Gondo said he was about to leave the business centre when the gang rounded up everyone.
“We were told to lie down on the ground wherever we were. They searched everyone beating people while striking others using machetes,” he said.
Acting police spokesperson for Midlands Province, Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende said police have launched a manhunt for the suspects who left several people at the business centre nursing injuries.
“Police in Gokwe have launched a manhunt for a gang of seven male adults who attacked and robbed shop owners at Nyaradza Business Centre in Gokwe.
“It is alleged that the seven unknown suspects, armed with iron bars, axes, machetes and bicycle chains pounced on the business centre driving in a silver Honda Fit vehicle,” said Asst Insp Mukwende.
She said the suspects who also force-opened shops got away with cash, cellphones, fuel and some alcohol.
“They got away with 33 litres of petrol, 10 litres of diesel, seven cellphones, cash amounting to $3 720, R400, US$5 and some alcoholic beverages,” said Asst Insp Mukwende.
She said a report was later made to the police and those who were injured in the attack were taken to Gokwe District Hospital.
Meanwhile, Asst Insp Mukwende dismissed reports circulating on social media that the suspects pounced on many business centres in Gokwe.
“Contrary to reports circulating on social media, the incident only took place at Nyaradza Business Centre and police are on the ground carrying out investigations.
“We urge members of the public who might assist the police in their investigations to approach any nearest police station or make use of our suggestion boxes,” she said. The Chronicle