Armed robbers stormed a Bulawayo lodge last Wednesday night and made off with cash and property worth US$11 630, including US$9 050 belonging to an Ethiopian gold dealer.
The Ethiopian and a compatriot, whom he had a business meeting with, appeared to be the initial targets of a gun-totting pair of assailants that ended up robbing other guests at Ginger Lilly lodge situated on the corner of Fife Street and Selous Avenue.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said investigations were ongoing. According to Inspector Ncube, the security guard who doubles up as the night receptionist, had been told by the lodge owner to expect a client who wanted to book for the night. When the robbers, who were in an unmarked BMW, drove up to the lodge, the security guard opened the gate for them as he assumed that the client he had been told to expect had arrived.
“The motor vehicle which had three occupants drove in and stopped before crossing the threshold of the gate. Two male adults wearing jeans, covering their mouths with some clothes got out of their motor vehicle armed with pistols and demanded to be led to Rooms Four and Five to see Ethiopian occupants who had booked in the said rooms,” said Insp Ncube.
As the security guard led the robbers to the rooms occupied by the Ethiopians, one of the robbers took a detour when he realised that one of the rooms on the ground floor was unlocked.
“As they were passing Room One which is situated on the ground floor, the accused found the door unlocked and one of the accused forced himself into the room pointing the gun around. The occupants of the room, a male adult aged 33 and a male adult aged 34, of Imbizo 12, Kwekwe, resisted the attack by one of the accused prompting him to exit the room. The two occupants then locked themselves inside,” said Insp Ncube.
The two-armed robbers then proceeded to Room Four where the Ethiopians were discussing their gold buying business and forced themselves in.
“The door was forced open using a fire extinguisher tank which was installed on the wall and the accused persons got inside. They demanded cash from the two complainants but failed to get any after body searches were done on them.
They went on to take two cellphones namely, a gold Mobicel R6, Nokia Android cellphones, two power banks and a cosmetic bag,” said Insp Ncube.
After failing to find cash in one of the Ethiopians room, the robbers made their way into the other room where one of the gold dealers had left a woman.
“One of the accused persons got out of Room Four, leaving his accomplice holding the two complainants hostage. He then proceeded to Room Five where one of the complainants was booked. He used a fire extinguisher to break the door to gain entry and found a lady inside the room.
He demanded money but she indicated that she did not have any. He then searched the room and took some cash amounting to US$9 050 inside a blue bag that was in a wall fitted wardrobe belonging to one of the complainants,” he said.
As the robbers made their way downstairs, they ran into a guest that had come to check what the commotion was about. The two then reportedly bundled the guest into the same room with the Ethiopians and searched him at gunpoint, robbing him of US$580 and some personal documents.
At the lodge’s reception area, they stole a printer and three satellite decoders before driving off. Insp Ncube urged colleges, schools and all businesspeople not to keep large sums of money at their business premises as they risk being robbed.
Coincidentally last week on Wednesday morning, a gang of six armed robbers raided a Bureau de Change in Bulawayo and made off with an undisclosed amount of money in foreign currency.