By Nqobile Tshili
A Bulawayo man bit the hand that fed him when he connived with three men armed with machetes and knives to rob his mother and sister who had just arrived in the country from the United Kingdom.
The two women, who lost US$6 000 in property and money, endured hours under hostage, with their hands tied together as their attackers threatened them.
The mother and daughter also had an added burden of fearing for the man’s safety, as they believed he had been kidnapped by vicious thugs because he had been bundled into a car that drove off at high speed.
Justine Ndebele (35) from Burnside suburb, who is now on the run, allegedly teamed up with Mehluli Ncube (29), Terrence Tafadzwa George Shumba (28) both from Barbourfields suburb and another suspect only identified as Jason to rob his mother and sister.
Justine allegedly survives from handouts from the pair and lives in a plush house in the leafy suburb due to their benevolence.
The incident occurred on Tuesday at around 4PM soon after Justine’s mother Ms Catherine Mashakata and his sister, Ms Reina Ndebele (33) landed at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport.
Mrs Mashakata had arranged that her son would pick them from airport to their residence.
Justine arrived at the airport and welcomed his mother and sister as they boarded his Toyota Wish, headed home.
Upon approaching the Nkayi-Bulawayo Highway, Justine took a sudden turn onto a gravel road, telling his mother and sister that he was taking a short route to their home.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said shortly after he made the turn, a white Honda Fit without number plates drove past them and blocked their way.
“Out of the vehicle came three men who were wielding machetes and knives who threatened them and demanded that they hand over all their belongings. The suspects tied all the three and one of them force-marched the son into the Honda Fit vehicle and drove away with him.
“The other two suspects Mehluli and Terrence took over the Toyota Wish and drove into the city centre with both the mother and daughter as their hostages. Their hands were still tied,” said Insp Ncube.
He said in the city centre, the suspects made another vehicle exchange as they bundled the mother and daughter into a Honda Fit car with Jason getting away with the Toyota Wish.
Insp Ncube said alert police officers patrolling in plain clothes noted suspicious activity in the Honda Fit and initiated an arrest.
“When the arrest was made, the woman and her daughter narrated that they had just landed in the country before being robbed. The mother said the robbers had taken away her son. However, the two suspects revealed that her son was the mastermind behind the robbery.
They revealed that they were hired by the son together with another suspect named Jason, who is on the run,” said Insp Ncube.
He said the robbers had stashed the property at a local lodge. “Police recovered US$1 460 which the two suspects were in possession of.
They also recovered three suitcases, a backpack and paper bag. The bags contained three iPhones, three laptops and two iPads. The value of the stolen property is estimated at US$5 900 and property worth US$3 060 was recovered. The remaining property is suspected to have been taken away by Ndebele and his other accomplice,” he said.
Insp Ncube said the way the robbery was orchestrated confirms that most of the robberies in the city are inside jobs.
“Hence, police are saying that most of the crimes we are recording in the city are caused by those we trust. It is no longer surprising that when robbers make raids, they always find valuables. We are not getting incidents where a robbery occurs and robbers get nothing.
“Our appeal as police is that let’s all be responsible citizens and report all suspects. It won’t be surprising to see that this is not the first time these suspects were involved in such robbery acts,” said Insp Ncube. The Chronicle