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US$2,7m heist: Varsity student in court

A Midlands State University student and son of suspected mastermind of the US$2,7 million ZB Bank heist was allegedly spotted by a relative hiding US$100 000, believed to be part of the loot at the family rural homestead in Mudakuenda Village, Mhondoro, the court heard.

Tichaona Njowa and Job Njowa who are part of the US$2,7 million heist gang appear at the Harare Magistrates Court yesterday
Tichaona Njowa and Job Njowa who are part of the US$2,7 million heist gang appear at the Harare Magistrates Court yesterday

Job Njowa, son to Shadreck Njowa, suspected to be the brains behind the heist, was spotted by his cousin Tichaona Njowa digging to hide the money near their hut around 9pm.

Tichaona later dug up and stole the money and started spending it lavishly, even buying a second car when the other one developed a fault, and coming to the attention of the police.

He appeared separately yesterday on theft charges. But Job Njowa (23), who reportedly disappeared from their Highfield residence in Harare with his father soon after the theft of the money while it was in transit to ZB Bank branches, appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court charged with obstructing the course of justice.

He was not asked to plead to the charges when he appeared before magistrate, Mr Dennis Mangosi, who remanded him in custody to today for a ruling on his bail application.

Job Njowa, who was represented by lawyer Mr Steady Kachere yesterday denied involvement in the robbery saying he was only a college student and was not in the village on the day the money was allegedly found at their rural homestead.

On January 6, his father and other ZB Bank cash-in-transit crew were tasked to deliver money to some of the bank’s branches.

A robbery was staged along the Harare-Chinhoyi Road after Nyabira Business Centre. On January 18, Job and his father left Harare for their rural home in Mhondoro.

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Upon their arrival, Shadreck allegedly ordered his son to hide US$100 000 underground. Job placed the money in a pot, wrapped it and hid it underground.

It was when he was digging that Tichaona Njowa spotted him as he was walking home along a footpath at around 9pm.

Knowing that Job’s father was wanted in connection with the heist, Tichaona then woke up around 4am and stole the money.

The court heard that another villager, Luxury Nakumwa, spotted Tichaona as he was stealing the money which Job had allegedly hidden. It was alleged that Tichaona gave Nakumwa US$5 000.

Prosecuting, Mrs Stylone Marufu had it that Tichaona then left his homestead and went to Turf in Ngezi where he bought a Honda Fit for US$2 900 and went on a spending spree, booking lodges around Turf and splashing out cash.

When his newly bought Honda Fit developed a mechanical fault, he just dumped it and bought another one.

Tichaona’s lavish lifestyle in Turf raised suspicion and police took him for questioning, and revealed he had stolen the money from Job after seeing him digging.

He was allegedly found in possession of US$15 000 upon his arrest.

Tichaona separately appeared before the same court charged with theft.

He is expected to return to court today for bail application. The Herald