EIGHT armed robbers raided the Bulawayo High Court yesterday and gained entry into the court’s criminal registry after attacking and disarming police officers manning the premises.
The incident occurred at about 4AM and the suspects were reportedly armed with pistols.
They left two police officers injured as they forced their way into the court building and finally the criminal registry.
One of the officers is admitted to a Bulawayo hospital while the other one did not sustain serious injuries, but the robbers tied his hands and legs before they left.
The robbers are said to have used a grinder as they tried to break the registry safe.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the robbery.
“We are investigating an armed robbery case which occurred at the Bulawayo High Court yesterday morning at 4AM. It is said about eight suspects went to the court and attacked two officers who were on duty and these suspects were armed with pistols.
“After attacking them, they blindfolded one of the officers. They then tried to force open the court’s main safe to the criminal registry’s office using a key. After failing, they tried again to use a grinder and, in the process, it is alleged that they were making phone calls,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said after failing in their attempts, they tied the hands and legs of one of the police officers.
The officer who sustained some serious injuries was taken to hospital where he is receiving treatment.
“They attacked him using their weapons. He is being treated at a hospital in Bulawayo, but we cannot reveal where he is receiving treatment,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police suspect the robbers had inside information.
“These guys had inside information and we want to establish the motive behind the robbery and the attack on the officers. We are therefore leaving no stone unturned in our quest to get to the bottom of this case and apprehend the suspects. The law will definitely take its course,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Judicial Service Commission (JSC) spokesperson Rumbidzai Takawira said the Commission had deployed a team from Harare to assess the situation on the ground.
“We have a team that is going there to ascertain what really transpired and we can only have information tomorrow (today),” said Takawira.
A legal expert who declined to be named, said an exhibit safe room can contain files or prosecution documents for suspects appearing before the courts.
The expert said even valuables that are confiscated when arresting suspects can be stored in the court’s registry.
“A crime registry can store exhibits which include weapons used by criminals in committing crimes. The exhibits are very vital in the prosecution process and probably these robbers wanted to steal these exhibits or destroy important documents,” said the expert.
In May this year a gang of robbers who were armed with an FN rifle pounced on the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) depot in Bulawayo and threatened to shoot security guards manning the premises if they dared raise an alarm.
They later tied the guards’ hands using a rope.
The robbers got away with a consignment of 148 boxes of Broncleer, a cough mixture which was banned over abuse as a euphoric drug, whose street value is US$20 000. -Chronicle