BULAWAYO – A gang of armed robbery suspects who broke into a home while posing as police officers took a Bulawayo family hostage and demanded loads of cash at gunpoint on the mistaken belief they were targeting a foreign currency dealer.
Police have since arrested the notorious gang over a spate of armed robberies incidents that have occurred in several homes in Bulawayo between April and May this year.
According to police, the gang used two Honda Fit vehicles as getaway cars during raids targeting homes in New Luveve and Rangemore suburbs.
The suspects used revolvers, pellet guns, machetes, knobkerries, knives, and sjamboks while committing the crimes, police said.
Limukani Khuphe, 38, a businessman from Plumtree, is believed to be the mastermind behind the robberies.
The other suspects are Brendon Moyo, 25, Benefit Vhudzi, 37, Witness Macebo, 27, Isheunesu Nhliziyo, 36, Nyapo Ndlovu, 26, Limukani Dube, 32, and Lungisani Mpofu, 24, all from Bulawayo.
In one of the cases which occurred at around 10pm on 24 April this year, Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said the suspects raided a family of six in New Luveve.
They first pretended to be police officers looking for a different suspect but later used force to gain entry into the house armed with knives, machetes, and knobkerries.
“Upon entry, accused persons hit the complainants with a machete, demanding money and valuables,” Inspector Ncube said.
“The accused persons then rounded up all six occupants who were in the house and made them sit in the sitting room.
“One of the accused was armed with a pistol. They took one of the complainants to the bedroom while placing a knife in her throat.
“While in the bedroom, the accused took cash US$177 and ZAR50 from a purse.
“The other accused persons who were in the sitting room took a Samsung 32inch television, open view decoder, Itel A33 phone, Samsung A12 cell phone, and a Huawei Y9 cell phone.”
According to police investigations, Ncube said, the robbers targeted the wrong house.
“Upon investigations, it was established that the robbers had targeted to rob a house which belonged to an illegal forex dealer and is into buying and selling of cell phones but instead missed the target and robbed the wrong place,” he said.
Inspector Ncube said using the same modus operandi, on May 6 at around 2am, the gang raided a house in Rangemore and in the process threatened and assaulted the occupants with two unidentified pistols.
“The complainants surrendered cellphones, an iPhone 6, a black Itel, an Itel P36, Itel P37 pro cellphone, and a Spark 8C cellphone.
“They stole a pellet gun from an unlocked gun cabinet and cash amounting to ZAR2000, USD$220, and ZWL$47 000.
“The accused took the property and sprayed the complainants with a paper spray and went away. A police report was then made,” said Ncube.
The gang was arrested after the police received information on the gang’s whereabouts on May 14.
Police recovered a Taurus revolver loaded with live rounds and empty cartridges from Khuphe and a pellet gun from Moyo.
Inspector Ncube urged the community to use target hardening techniques in their premises by increasing door and window burglar bars and security.