By A Correspondent- Armed robbers have wreaked havoc in Beitbridge’s HaGoda, Mahuhushe and Lutumba areas where more than a dozen incidents, including carjacking, have been reported by cross-border jumpers in the past few weeks.
Yesterday, security forces shot dead one of the suspected armed robbers, injured two and arrested several others following a raid at their hideout in Lutumba.
The suspected robber identified only as Abel was hit when he fled into a building inside a beer hall and died on the spot.
Another suspect identified only as Elvis pointed a .303 rifle at the security forces before he was also shot and injured.
Thousands of dollars worth of groceries believed to have been robbed from different people were recovered in yesterday’s raid.
The pre-dawn raid was a result of a combined operation between local police and security personnel deployed for a special operation along the border.
These two groups have previously been engaged in a territorial dispute that resulted in the robbers taking advantage.
The armed robbers hit unsuspecting shoppers who sneak into South Africa through undesignated points with the Zimbabwean border still closed.
The armed robbers are preying on unsuspecting shoppers who sneak into South Africa through undesignated points since the Zimbabwean border is still closed.
At least two vehicles, both minibuses loaded with groceries were recently hijacked at gunpoint with one emptied and abandoned a few kilometres from the scene.
The other is yet to be recovered while dozens of other victims left the scene empty-handed.
Most of these armed robberies occur at night.
“The robbers are believed to have armed local youths, taking advantage of a territorial battle between local police and those deployed for a special operation against smuggling and border-jumping.
National police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the robberies.
“The robbers have been preying on shoppers who illegally sneak into South Africa, who were robbed around the Lutumba area. We have since dispatched officers on a joint operation to bring to book these criminals,” he said.
Nyathi warned people against using undesignated points to cross to and from South Africa.
“The borders are still closed, but we have people who sneak into neighbouring countries, risking falling victim to such robbers,” he said.
A source told NewsDay Weekender that the robbers were from HaGoda, who before border closures, survived on illegal cross-border activities.
“We even know the owner of the gun in question. At one time, these youths dug pits on the road from the river so that vehicles would be trapped,” a villager said.
A businessman at Lutumba, who requested anonymity, said robberies had become a daily experience in the area.
“These robbers have been active for a month and we wonder why police have not been able to account for them. We are now living in fear,” he said.
Zimbabwe has kept its borders closed to curb the spread of COVID-19, but border jumpers risk life and limb as they flock to South Africa for cheaper groceries.