Nyabira Armed Robbery

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Police detectives escort the US$2.7million Harare-Chirundu Road robbery suspects into the Harare Magistrates Courts

Nyabira Armed Robbery took place in Nyabira on 6 January 2021 along the Harare-Chinhoyi Road near Gwebi Bridge. The robbers got away with US$2 500 000 and 40 000 Zimbabwe dollars. The money was supposed to be distributed to several ZB Branches including Chinhoyi, Kadoma, Kwekwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Gwanda, and Zvishavane.

Details

According to a statement released by the Zimbabwe Republic Police the robbery occurred on 6th January 2021 around 1400 hours, along Harare-Chinhoyi Road near Gwebi Bridge.

The police said that three complainants were travelling in a Toyota Hilux single Cab vehicle on their way to Chinhoyi to conduct a cash-in-transit task.

On board, they had seven cash boxes containing approximately two million five hundred thousand United States dollars (USD2 500 000) and forty thousand Zimbabwe dollars (ZWL$40 000).

Along the way they picked up six male passengers at Westgate and Inkomo Turn-off.

On approaching the Gwebi Bridge lay-bye, the driver stopped the vehicle as one of the complainants wanted to relieve himself. One of the passengers produced an unidentified pistol and fired one shot in the air whilst his accomplices disarmed one of the complainants of his 303 rifle.

The men then tied the three complainants and drove into the bush where they loaded the cash boxes into a red Toyota vehicle, whose make and registration numbers are unknown, and drove off.

The complainants later made a report to the police

Arrests

On 13 January 2021 it was reported land baron and Zanu PF Harare South district youth leader Gerald Rutizirira was arrested for taking part in the US$2.5 million cash heist in Gwebi.

Rutizirira was part of the eight-member gang who allegedly worked in cahoots with three ZB Bank cash in transit security personnel; Nomatter Jonga, Matthew Simango and Fanuel Musakwa.


Job Njowa, son to Shadreck Njowa believed to be the brains behind the heist, was seen by his cousin Tichaona Njowa digging the money underground near their hut in Mudakwenda Village, Mhondoro at around 9pm.

With the full knowledge that Job’s father was wanted in connection with the robbery, Tichaona proceeded to steal the hidden money and went on a spending spree at Turf in Ngezi.

Tichaona’s spending patterns raised suspicion amongst residents who tipped off the police resulting in his arrest.

Upon his arrest, Tichaona revealed he had stolen the money from Job, who had dug it underground in a bid to conceal evidence since his father was wanted by the police in connection with the robbery.

Job was then arrested and taken to court charged with obstructing the course of justice.

Through his lawyer Mr Steady Kachere, Job denied the allegations during his bail application.

Tichaona, who was represented by lawyer Mrs Concellia Maheya, separately appeared in court charged with theft. He was allegedly found in possession of US$20 500 after having bought two cars.[1]

List of people arrested

The list of arrested persons includes:

  1. Gerald Rutizirira
  2. Nomatter Jonga
  3. Matthew Simango
  4. Fanuel Musakwa
  5. Kelvin Musakwa
  6. Tendai Zuze
  7. Neverson Mwamuka
  8. Trymore Chapfika
  9. Tozivepi Chirara
  10. Charles Chirara
  11. Terrence Matimba
  12. Tichaona Njowa
  13. Job Njowa
  14. Revai Muza- Andrew Zigara's wife
  15. Jephius Kufandada- Andrew Zigara's uncle.

List of items recovered

Upon his arrest, Rutizirira was found in possession of USS$ 96 100 and he had also bought a recently imported Toyota Hiace Omnibus. The vehicle cost a minimum of US$10 000 on the market.

It is further alleged that Rutizirira tried to conceal the crime by changing the colour of the getaway car to white. Upon his arrest, the paint was still wet.

Police recovered US$456 000 and vehicles including a white Toyota Hiace, Charcoal grey Baby Quantam, Toyota Lexus and Honda Fit all purchased from the loot.

From the recovered money, US$38 000 was recovered from one Kelvin Musakwa, a brother to one of the three ZB bank security details also implicated in the heist.[2]

US$77 800 and a Subaru Forester were recovered from Tozivepi Chirara after police took him for indications during their investigations.

Police also recovered a Toyota Passo from Charles Chirara, who was stationed at 5.3 Infantry Battalion at Battlefields near Kwekwe and US$55 000. A pistol stolen during the robbery was recovered from Terrence Matimba, who was stationed at Parachute Regiment at Inkomo Barracks in Nyabira.

In total police recovered US$690 000 in cash. Three more suspects are still being sought, including the alleged mastermind.[3]

Tichaona Njowa was allegedly found in possession of US$20 500 after having bought two cars.[1]

Revai Muza the wife of Andrew Zigara was found in possession of US$52 000 believed to be part of the loot. She appeared in court charged with money laundering.

Muza appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court jointly charged with her husband’s uncle, Jephius Kufandada.

Muza and Kufandada are both from Masvingo. The two were not asked to plead to the charges when they appeared before regional magistrate Stanford Mambanje, who remanded them out of custody to June 8 2021.

After the armed robbery and sharing of the money, Zigara went to his lodgings in Beatrice where he showed his wife the money.

On the following day, Zigara left home for an unknown destination where he called his uncle, Kufandada telling him that he wanted to buy five houses in Masvingo. Zigara is said to have told his uncle that he had sold ivory and gold.

Kufandada is said to have approached an estate agent, Emily Musengi of Emtac Venture in Masvingo, and he was shown houses in Mucheke B and Rujeko C.

Both houses were selling for US$50 000 inclusive of conveyancing fees.

On January 11 2021, Kufandada called Zigara asking him whether he was still interested in the houses. Kufandada was told that Zigara'ss wife was visiting him with the money. On the following day, Zigara gave his wife US$50 000 and told her to meet Kufandada whom she gave the money. Muza and Kufandada went to meet the agent and the two houses were paid for including all the conveyancing fees.

Zigara, his wife and Kufandada failed to agree on whose name the houses would be registered in when the agreement of sales were being done.

They agreed that a house in Mucheke B be registered in Kufandada’s name while they failed to agree on under whose name the Rujeko C house would be registered.

Zigara later called Kufandada and advised him to watch ZBC-TV news if he wanted to know the source of the money which was used to buy the two houses.

Zigara allegedy confessed to Kufandada that he was involved in the January 6 2021 heist.[4]

Shootout

Andrew Zigara was one of the suspects on the run in the US$2,7 million ZB Bank cash-in-transit heist died in Zaka on 14 January 2021 in a shoot-out with detectives.

He died at Ndanga District Hospital from gunshot wounds sustained in the shoot-out at Ndanga Business Centre while he was resisting arrest. In a statement police said:

“Upon seeing the detectives at the business centre, the suspect tried to run away resulting in a shoot-out with police. Chigara sustained serious injuries and was taken to Ndanga Hospital where he passed on.”

[3]

Trial

Despite the police not arresting anyone, the three security guards; Nomatter Jonga, Matthew Simango, and Fanuel Musakwa who were victims of the robbery appeared in court on 8 January 2021, charged with theft.

The trio reportedly gave different versions of what transpired giving credence to the suspicion that it could have been an inside job.[5]The State alleged that the trio hatched a plan to steal the money and connived with the six suspected robbers, who are still at large. On 9 January 2021, the trio was remanded in custody to January 13.[6]

12 January 2021

On January 12, 2021, Rutizirira and his accomplices Kelvin Musakwa, Tendai Zuze, Neverson Mwamuka, Trymore Chapfika, brothers Tozivepi and Charles Chirara and Terrence Matimba,[7] appeared before Harare Magistrate Judith Taruvinga, answering to a charge of Armed Robbery as defined in Section 126(1)(a) (b) of the Criminal Law(Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9.23.

The State, led by Linda Gahadzikwa opposed bail on grounds that the accused posed a flight risk and were likely to interfere with investigations.

Five of the accused namely; Rutizirira, Musakwa, Zuze, Mwamuka and Chapfika, were remanded in custody to February 17, while the other three, Tozivepi, Chirara and Matimba, were sent back for further detention.

Police successfully applied for a warrant for further detention citing that they were still following up on indications that could lead to possible recovery.[2] Police indicated that they wanted to visit the trio’s rural homes where they expect to make some possible recoveries.

Shadreck Njowa, a ZB Bank employee who is believed to be the mastermind of the heist is still at large.[7]

15 January 2021

Tozivepi Chirara, Charles Chirara and Terrence Matimba appeared before Judith Taruvinga on January 15, 2021, who remanded them in custody to February 17 and told them only the High Court could hear a bail application.[3]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Nyore Madzianike, JUST IN: US$2.7 million heist mastermind nabbed, The Herald, Published: January 25, 2021, Retrieved: January 27, 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nigel Pfunde, Zanu PF land baron nailed in Gwebi US$2.5million heist, Zim Morning Post, Published: January 13, 2021, Retrieved: January 14, 2021
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 US$2,7m heist suspect killed in shoot-out, three still on the run, The Herald, Published: January 16, 2021, Retrieved: January 16, 2021
  4. US$2,5m heist suspect’s wife, uncle in court, The Herald, Published: Retrieved: June 4, 2021
  5. Taboka Ncube, USD2.5m cash-in-transit victims now suspects, ZBC, Published: January 8, 2021, Retrieved: January 8, 2021
  6. Emmanuel Kafe, US$2,7m heist: Trio remanded in custody, Sunday Mail, Published: January 10, 2021, Retrieved: January 10, 2021
  7. 7.0 7.1 US$2,7m heist: 8 more suspects appear in court, The Herald, Published: January 14, 2021, Retrieved: January 14, 2021