By-A police crack team in Beitbridge has arrested five members of a gang of robbers that has been preying on motorists on major highways leading from Beitbridge to Bulawayo and Harare.
The team uses spikes and also pounces on motorists who would have had breakdowns. The gang allegedly patrols the highways in vehicles and attacks targets any time after 9pm.
It is understood that they are operating on a radius of between 50km and 80km on both roads from the border town.
The spikes are being used mostly on a stretch near the Bubi area where the road is being upgraded and there is a detour.
Along the Bulawayo Road, the criminals are pouncing on the victims between the Bishopstone turn-off and the Musane turn-off.
Three of the gang members, Believe Shumba alias Chipanga (32), John Bhunu (34) and David Ratsauka (29), were recently released from Khami Maximum Prison after serving five years on a similar offence.
They had robbed a Malawian traditional healer of R98 000 cash and an assortment of clothes and groceries all worth R160 000.
The other two suspects are Ntanganedzeni Muleya (28) and Nigel Pandukai (27) all of Beitbridge town.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the five will soon appear in court charged with robbery.
“We confirm the arrests of five suspects in Beitbridge on Tuesday after the police managed to trace one of the red Honda Fit vehicles they were using to pounce on motorists,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
“Let me warn such criminals that we are alert and ready for them. In fact, their days are numbered since we have increased surveillance and patrols along all the highways countrywide.”
Further investigations are underway, said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Since the beginning of December, police have recorded five robberies along the roads leading from Beitbridge to Bulawayo and Harare, which are believed to have been orchestrated by the gang.
An assortment of stolen goods was recovered from the gang and some of the goods have been positively identified by the complainants.
However, Asst Comm Nyathi encouraged motorists to observe the obtaining curfew regulations and travel during the day.
“You will note that most of the complainants are lone motorists robbed during the curfew time. Where possible they must drive in convoys during the day,” he said.
The curfew, aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19, runs from 9pm to 6am daily.
Presently, there is a relative increase in motorists using the two major roads which connect Beitbridge and the rest of the country, as more Zimbabweans arrive from Eswatini, Lesotho, and South Africa for Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Figures from the Department of Immigration indicate that an average of 4 000 people are using the border daily since December 10.
Most of the travellers are using private vehicles, while a sizeable number is using buses.
Buses have also become targets for armed robbers, with a number of people having lost varying sums of money at night in the recent past.