By Thupeyo Muleya
Seven men who were arrested by the police between Saturday and Monday have appeared in court facing 16 charges of armed robbery.
Known as the Man-fire Gang because one of the members uses that moniker, the gang terrorised residents, taxi drivers, motorists, and villagers living close to the Limpopo River.
They would use machetes, knives and firearms to subdue their victims and are accused of stealing property worth a combined R79 345 and US$65 445 between December last year and June this year.
The suspected gangsters are Conscious Gumbo alias Pride Ndou (27) of Mawale Village, Philemon Chizani alias Man-fire (28) of Tshitaudze suburb in the border town, Handson Mhlanga (26) of Mawale, Thembani Ncube (26) and a 16-year-old suspect who cannot be named, while the names of two others are still being verified.
They were all not asked to plead to 16 charges of armed robbery when they appeared before Beitbridge Resident Magistrate Mr Takudzwa Gwazemba on Tuesday afternoon.
The suspects were remanded in custody to July 20.
Prosecuting, Mr Tawanda Chigavazira, told the court that the gang all acting with a common purpose would arm themselves with machetes, knives, and firearms before robbing their victims along the major highway leading to Harare, Beitbridge town, and those living in villages close to the Limpopo River.
The State further alleges that between December 24, 2020 and July 1, 2021, the suspects pounced on 16 people and stole an assortment of valuables worth a combined R76 345 and US$20 000.
Among the items were cell phones and several vehicles they would use to commit other crimes.
The gang is accused of burning a Mazda Familia they had stolen soon after using it to commit another armed robbery.
The court heard that five of the gang members were arrested in Mawale Village and Beitbridge town on Sunday.
Chizani was shot in the leg as the suspects resisted arrest.
The gang’s reign of terror ended when they attacked four people on July 1 in two separate incidents and they were armed with knives, machetes and a pistol.
In the first case, they had robbed a taxi driver and his passenger before stealing a pirate taxi (Honda Fit). They later dumped it near Lutumba along the road leading to Masvingo.
It is also alleged that before dumping the Honda Fit, they used it to rob a couple in Mawale of R10 000 and flea markets wares worth thousands of dollars. The Chronicle