By Freeman Razemba
The Criminal Investigations Department Crack Team from Harare took about three days while they were waylaying an ambush at the house of one of the seven dangerous robbers, Godfrey Josi, believed to have been the gang leader.
This was in Damafalls, Ruwa before the team subsequently arrested Josi during a raid when he bolted out of a room armed with a revolver last Saturday.
Josi, who scuffled with the police officers, was shot on the left leg and a revolver loaded with two live rounds, three superpower explosive dynamites and four fuse cables were recovered.
Last weekend, police arrested the seven robbers in separate incidents under a special operation during which two of the suspects were shot and killed in a shoot-out.
Most of them are habitual criminals who have been on the police’s most-wanted lists for committing a spate of crimes countrywide, targeting individuals and business people with large amounts of cash.
The operation leading to their arrests follows President Mnangagwa’s recent stern warning to armed robbers that they would be brought to book.
Some of the robbers are understood to have been behind the March 28 raid at Gateway High School in Harare where they made off with US$250 000, who have been in and out of prison on bail pending trial for committing violent crimes.
Following the arrest of Josi, he revealed that his accomplices were Zvidozvashe Zuda, Peter Mushipe, Valentine Mutasa, Decide Rice of Devon Farm in Kadoma and the now deceased Benjamin Craig Musasa and Richard Mutanga.
Mutanga was raided in Unit O, Chitungwiza, leading to the recovery of a gateway vehicle, a Honda CRV, while Zuda was arrested at Kuwadzana roundabout and found with a pistol and bullets.
Police detectives followed Peter Mushipe in Stoneridge area, Harare, where he tried to run away while armed with a 12 Bore shot gun loaded with one live round.
He was subsequently shot on the right leg and live rounds of ammunition were recovered from his pockets.
The fifth suspect, Valentine Mutasa, had a confrontation with police officers at Glenwood Park, Epworth, and was shot on the left hip, leading to the recovery of a 303 rifle with three rounds of ammunition.
Decide Rice was lured to Harare Drive in Greendale where he arrived in the company of Benjamin Musasa where the two suspects suddenly exchanged fire with the police.
During the exchange of fire, Musasa was shot and arrested while Rice escaped. A revolver with erased serial numbers was recovered.
Musasa was taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital where he died on admission.
During the past few years, Rice has managed to survive two other shootouts in which his accomplices — Godknows Shumba (2019) and Luckymore Chibira (May 2020) — were killed.
Police also arrested Juliet Gavaza (37) after investigations revealed that she was married to Josi and had several properties and household goods believed to have been bought from the criminal proceeds.
Police then secured all the transactional documents.
The properties include a four-roomed house in Budiriro 4 Extension in Harare for US$20 000, a seven-roomed house in Zengeza 5 Chitungwiza valued at US$36 000, a residential stand in Murehwa for US$2 600 and a 2,5-hectare plot at Kent Farm in Mhondoro.
They also bought an Isuzu KB300, a Mercedes Benz, two Honda CRVs and 10 cattle in Headlands.
All the armed robbery suspects have been linked to seven armed robbery cases which include the one at Gateway High School and the other in Muzari Suburb, Chinhoyi, on January 12, 2021 where US$60 000 was taken.
There was another robbery case at UZ Farm compound on May 10, 2021 where US$20 000 was stolen and the recent robbery which occurred on June 29, when the suspects took US$19 800 from a Beatrice farmer.
Police also established that Josi, Mushipe, Mutasa and the now-deceased Musasa were linked to several cases of armed robbery and had arrest warrants against them.
Mutasa is alleged to have committed murder in Nembudziya, Gokwe, and was involved in an armed robbery case in Kadoma.
In October 2017, Rice and his three accomplices once stole a pistol from a security guard who was on duty and used it to commit robberies in Harare, getting away with jewellery and valuables worth over US$100 000 and US$3 000 cash.
It is alleged that after robbing the guard of his gun at Eastip Chicken Abattoirs, Rice, the now deceased Godknows Shumba, Shadreck Kabanga and Alvin Matinhure then hatched a plan to rob Puma Service Stations in Harare using the gun.
The gang allegedly robbed a Borrowdale family at its Harare house and went away with two more pistols, clothing, jewellery and cash.
Shumba, Kabanga and Matinhure have since been arrested and brought to court charged with robbery. They were denied bail and are in custody pending trial.
Rice was later arrested and appeared in court facing four counts of robbery.
He was then remanded in custody with instructions to approach the High Court for bail due to the gravity of the offences he was facing.
In October, 2018, police arrested Rice and his five accomplices, including a woman believed to be part of an 11-member gang that got away with US$50 000 and over $46 000 in separate incidents.
Other suspects were Godknows Shumba of Hatcliffe; Alvin Matimure of Unit N, Chitungwiza; Febie Chabwera of Borrowdale Brooke and Peter Mutungira and Ishmael Mutungira.
Following their arrests, they implicated other accomplices — Gift George Dandemutande, Mugove Chimuti, Tinashe Manhanga and Dread.
The suspects were targeting business premises such as shops, as well as residential areas where they seemed to have information that victims kept large sums of money.
In May 2018, the other suspect, Valentine Mutasa was also arrested after being shot on both legs in Norton while carrying several children in a stolen vehicle.
This came as Mutasa’s sister, Mildred, wife Patricia Mutsambiwa and Wadzanai Manyika had also pleaded guilty to charges of obstructing the course of justice after they hid the guns he used in the robbery cases.
On May 2 2018, an unidentified informant had gone to a house in Katanga, Norton, investigating a vehicle robbery case involving Mutasa.
Mutasa fled from the house and detectives gave chase and apprehended him.
While detectives were chasing him, Mildred, who had visited Mutasa, got into his bedroom and took away a silver special revolver pistol, pellet gun, rounds of ammunition for a .303, 897 rounds of ammunition for a star pistol and buried them at the back of the house.
Detectives then arrested Mildred, who confessed that she gave some of the firearms to Mutsambiwa, who took them to Domboshava.
The detectives went to Domboshava and arrested Mutsambiwa and Manyika. They recovered pistols and ammunitions near a septic tank behind Manyika’s kitchen.
Mutasa was facing various armed robbery allegations committed in Bindura, Mvurwi and Harare involving thousands of dollars.
In October 2018, Mutasa and his accomplices, the now deceased Luckmore Chibira, Wisdom Solomon and Knowledge Sanyika were charged for allegedly robbing an Indian businessman, Vinord Chandre Rugnathig, of over US$20 000 after physically abusing him, his wife as well as their employees.
When the gang was later arrested in their vehicle, police recovered a CZ pistol, a Wembley and Scott pistol whose serial numbers had been erased and a Mob Brevete pistol.
They also recovered a satchel which had fused detonators and another bag which contained 16 explosives. A knife and a hammer, garden pick and 14 pounds hammer were also found in the boot of the car.
In May last year, serial robber Peter Mushipe and his three accomplices — Alfred Mangwiro, Wonder Mahuni, and Tendai Jongwe Dzoma appeared in court facing six counts of armed robbery and attempted murder charges.
The cases occurred in Borrowdale where the gang together with their other accomplices — Edmore Ronald Chigwada, Christopher Danda, Terrance Nyakudyara and Joseph Hazvinei — forced their entry into the house and stole R200, US$300, Samsung S9, two television sets, suitcases and bed sheets and they escaped.
In Vainona, they stole two HP laptops, $85, an IPad, IPhone 6 and jewellery valued at US$5 919, while in Hatfield, a complainant arrived at his residence driving his Toyota Prado and stopped at his gate before the gang confronted him when he was about to open the gate.
The robbers first fired a shot and it hit the victim on his right-hand middle finger and he fell down. They went on to manhandle him before they knocked at his door claiming to be police officers and ordered his wife to open the door.
While inside the house they demanded safe keys and forced the complainant’s wife to go and get the safe keys in the car.
When they got the safe keys, they stole US$10 000, $3 500, R15 000, a 9mm Star Pistol with a magazine of eight rounds of live ammunition, an iPhone cell phone, Samsung S3 and Samsung S5.
They took the complainant’s car which they later dumped in Chitungwiza.
The gang also raided a house in Tynwald South where they held the occupants, hostage, before stealing US$40 000, R13 000, $2 000 coins, Samsung Galaxy J6Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, IPhone 6, two gate remote controls and two car keys.
They also pounced on a house in Eastlea where they stole various jewellery, 32-inch television set, a suitcase with clothes while armed with knives.
Using the same method of operation, they grabbed the housemaid at around 7 am and threatened to stab her before they tied her hands and taking the loot.
The owner of the house returned around 2 pm from work and upon entry into the house, she was pointed at with a knife and threatened with death if she resisted their demands.
She surrendered a handbag and they took US$300, $1 000, 38 Special revolver and car keys.
They took her car and drove away.
In Waterfalls, the gang who were armed with knives entered another complainant’s yard and fired a shot in the air to instil fear.
They went on to manhandle the complainant and physically assaulted him demanding cash.
They forced him into the house and took $1 500, US$4 500, PI pistol and iPhone 8 before they escaped.
Since last year, police have been expressing concern over an increase in armed robbery cases and urging people to avoid keeping large sums of cash.
Early this year, 20 suspected armed robbers, including two ex-policemen who were released on bail pending appeal at the High Court last year, were on the police’s most-wanted list for committing a spate of robberies in and around Harare and skipping bail.
Those that were being hunted down were Alois Nyamadzawo, Decide Rice, Godfrey Josi, Elijah Temai Vumbunu, Leonard Huni, Fanuel Chikadaya, Peter Mushipe, Conwell Kasambarare (28), Musafare Mupamhanga, Spicer Takawira, Prince Makodza, Liberty Mupamhanga, Godfrey Mupamhanga, Prince Zakeo, Gerald Chiro, George Munyaradzi Muchanyangwa, Peter Mushipe, Edward Matinyenya and the two ex-cops Watson Magodhi and Ayanda Gumbo.
Most of the suspects, who have since been rearrested, had previous criminal records and warrants of arrests. The Herald