THE Zimbabwe Republic Police is actively pursuing criminals that have been evading the clutches of the long arm of the law for a long time.
Their latest mission involved a joint operation with other security services where they tracked and neutralised two gunmen who attacked soldiers — killing one and seriously wounding another — in Chivhu a fortnight ago.
It comes on the heels of the highly successful operation to account for Musa Taj Abdul, also known as Kedha, who is the alleged mastermind of a string of robberies that spun over a period of two decades.
He was arrested on August 24 in Beitbridge after being trailed by law enforcement agents.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they are currently spiritedly pursuing criminals as part of an elaborate mission of cleaning up the streets.
“Let every robber and anyone engaged in criminal activities know that crime doesn’t pay . . . Abdul has been arrested even though he tried to hide for two decades,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Abdul is one of the eight suspected armed robbers who lived lavish lifestyles in posh houses and drove fancy cars in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The suspected robbers, who allegedly committed a spate of attacks on several individuals and businesses, lived the high life using proceeds from crime.
The criminal enterprise by the alleged gang members, Asst Comm Nyathi said, prejudiced many individuals, families and companies by robbing them of their hard-earned money and valuables. However, the “major police raid” in Beitbridge, which was described as a “smooth” operation, managed to net the individuals who were on police’s most wanted list for the best part of 20 years.
Now they are under lock and key.
Abdul (47) and other suspected gang members — Charles Lundu (47), Rudolf Kanhanga alias Tapiwa Munatsi (29), Tapiwa Mangoma alias Tapa (27), Innocent Jairosi (32), Prince Makodza (31), Liberty Mupamhanga (29) and Godfrey Mupamhanga (27) — have since appeared in court for armed robbery.
But the successful operation is a piece of a wider endless war on crime.
Police are still hunting for six more armed criminals who have been elusive for several years for crimes committed mostly in Harare and Beitbridge.
Asst Comm Nyathi said some of those on the police most wanted list are Andile Shawn Dlamini, Brian Murape, Carrington Marasha, Abednigo Hlongwane and Elias Mpofu, whose crimes include armed robbery and fraud.
Marasha, Hlongwane and Mpofu are believed to be close associates of Abdul, while Murape and Dlamini belong to a separate gang of notorious armed robbers.
It is suspected that the elusive criminals are likely hibernating across the Limpopo (in South Africa).
“People should be alert and watch out for these armed robbers. They can call the nearest police station if anyone has information about the whereabouts of these criminals,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Like Abdul, the alleged dangerous criminals are said to be living lavish lifestyles from their ill-gotten gains. However, Asst Comm Nyathi said there
was need for a thorough lifestyle audit of Abdul. He said it was possible that Abdul and accomplices could have registered properties in the names of relatives and friends.
The State is empowered by the amended Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act to forfeit properties bought using ill-gotten funds.
“The suspected armed robbers were getting rich and living large as they were shuttling between Zimbabwe and South Africa. They have cars and houses across borders and this clearly shows a picture of people living lavishly at the expense of their victims,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
The Sunday Mail established that Abdul’s address — 23 Down Street Barham Green, Bulawayo — is non-existent, as repeated efforts to locate his home proved fruitless. Barham Green residents interviewed by this publication said Abdul never lived in the neighbourhood.
Some preliminary investigations have indicated that Abdul could have grown up living in Arcadia in the capital before he left for an unknown address.
It is suspected that some of the gang members were cash-rich such that they could afford to buy properties in South Africa’s plush suburb of Sandton.
Some of the crimes might have been committed a long time ago but the victims are still traumatised by the brutal raids, said Asst Comm Nyathi.
Some of the cases allegedly committed by the suspected armed robbers who were recently arrested include the February 5 raid at Makoni Shopping Centre, Chitungwiza, where they stole US$19 000, $30 000, cellphones and a Toyota Allion vehicle, which was later found abandoned in Glen View.
It is alleged on February 26 the gang robbed another person in Harare of US$40 000, jewellery, several pairs of shoes, a laptop, cellphones, a Star pistol and Hyundai vehicle. The gang is suspected to have proceeded to the victim’s workplace and robbed him of US$227 250 and R28 000. At the scene of the shoot-out, police recovered a 9mm CZ pistol, a Star pistol, Bruno pistol, .38 special Amadeo Rossi revolver, FN Browning pistol, 20x9mm rounds of ammunition and 4×7,65mm live rounds.
Recently, they are alleged to have stolen US$1 473 from a house in Queensdale, Harare, before proceeding to raid Trauma Centre, where they got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.