In the least expected ruling, High Court Judge Justice Benjamin Chikowero granted notorious armed robber Musa Taj Abdul (47) and his two co-accused Godfrey Mupamhanga (27) and Rudolf Tapiwa Kanhanga (29) bail.
The trio were arrested in Beitbridge in August with five others Charles Lundu (47), Tapiwa Mangoma alias Tapa (27), Innocent Jairosi (32), Prince Makodza (31), Liberty Mupamhanga (29) after being on the run for more than 20 years.
Taj Abdul is accused by police of masterminding numerous criminal activities, including high profile robbery cases reminiscent of the Chidhumo-Masendeke robberies which kept the nation spellbound in the 1990s.
On their dramatic arrest, police officers recovered a Noringo Pistol silver in colour with an obliterated serial number and a magazine of 11 live rounds, 19×12 bore gauge live rounds on a webbing belt (bandoleer) placed in a black satchel stashed in a washing basket. A pair of number plates AEX 1577 was recovered under the bed. The motor vehicle was also searched and the team of police officers recovered a black face mask (balaclava) stashed in the vehicle boot.
Abdul has been known for evading police arrests and escaping shootouts in which some of his accomplices were killed by police in several incidents around the country.
He was involved in a shoot out with the police in March this year in Harare.
At the time the police had linked the gang to the nine cases of armed robbery. Some of which include the armed robbery which occurred on December 20 last year at Wessel Shop in Msasa, Harare, where they disarmed a security guard and stole a special Amadeo Rossi revolver, $160 000 and an Isuzu KB240 single cab vehicle.
On February 5 this year, the gang allegedly went to Makoni Shopping Centre, Chitungwiza, armed with pistols, an AK47 rifle and robbed unsuspecting complaints of US$19 000, $30 000, cellphones and a Toyota Allion vehicle, which was later found abandoned in Glen View.
Adbul and Mupamhanga were granted $5 000 bail each while Kanhanga was released on $2 000 bail.
As part of their bail conditions, the trio were ordered to reside at their given address and report to the police every Friday between 6 am and 6 pm until the matter has been finalized.
The trio and their accomplices are facing several charges of armed robbery.