Heist sucks in RBZ official

HARARE – A bank accountant and an ex-policeman were among six armed robbers who raided Stanbic Bank’s Chegutu branch on Tuesday morning and made off with US$266 000, R150 000 and P34 690, police have said.

The robbery, in which the branch’s assistant manager was shot and injured, has also sucked in a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe employee, who is now suspect number seven.

Sources close to the investigations yesterday said the central bank employee assisted the suspects with transport in Harare a few hours after the robbery.

Detectives tracked him down to Mutare where he was believed to have gone into hiding and they were by last night still looking for him.

The central bank employee is an ex-policeman and is believed to have been living in Chitungwiza.

He is also being implicated in the recent Chitungwiza CBZ Bank robbery.

The accountant, Jotamu Gonese, and Akim Matare, an ex-cop, were arrested on Tuesday night following a manhunt by detectives.

Police are not disclosing the accountant’s employers for fear of prejudicing investiga- tions.

Police have recovered more than US$50 000 from the suspects but the exact amount could not be ascertained by yesterday.

The six men are believed to be part of the gang that recently hit CBZ Bank’s Chitungwiza branch and got away with cellphones, but failed to get cash.

The gang, which used two getaway cars — an Isuzu KB twin-cab and a Peugeot 406 — in Chegutu also looted cash, cellphones and other valuables from clients in the banking hall.

Deputy chief police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka yesterday said three of the suspects were Zimbabweans, while the other three were South African.

"We have since established the names of the South Africans and the Zimbabwean still at large.

"Investigations have so far revealed that the South Africans were brought into the country by the Zimbabweans who normally reside in South Africa," he said.

He said investigations have revealed that the gang had been staying at a house in Unit H, Seke, Chitungwiza.

The four are suspected to have fled to South Africa on Tuesday evening through an illegal exit point near Beitbridge Border Post.

Police have since recovered the Isuzu KB twincab and the Peugeot 406.

The Isuzu KB is registered in Gonese’s name, while the Peugeot 406 belongs to the Zimbabwean

who fled.

Gonese was the first suspect to be arrested in the city following a Central Vehicle Registry check of the Isuzu KB.

He reportedly implicated Matare, of Norton, who was still in possession of the Isuzu KB.

Matare was arrested near a hotel after falling into a police trap. He had US$38 000 in the vehicle, believed to be part of the share for the accountant.

Matare also led police to recover part of the spoils.

After the two were questioned, they implicated the other four accomplices and police tried to track them.

They discovered that one of the suspects had driven to Beitbridge in the Peugeot 406.

He was reportedly clad in a white robe normally worn by members of the Apostolic sect to hoodwink police manning roadblocks along the Harare-Beitbridge Road.

But on Wednesday night, detectives arrested his younger brother in the Beatrice area after he was spotted driving the vehicle back from Beitbridge.

He was yesterday still assisting police with investigations.

Police suspect that the three South Africans boarded a bus back to their country and are believed to have crossed at illegal entry points with their loot.

"The trend where local criminals connive with other criminals outside our borders is so disturbing, but as police, we commit ourselves to crack through these criminals and make sure that justice is done," said Chief Supt Mandipaka.

He urged the public to assist police with information leading to the arrest of any criminals.

"As we also move towards the 2010 Fifa World Cup, these criminals will wreak havoc within our borders and as these cases are being committed, there is need for a swift reaction," said Chief Supt Mandipaka.

This, he said, could only be achieved if police had high-powered vehicles and adequate resources to curb such activities.