Crime & Courts

Boy recounts movie-style Southerton robbery

In the young boy’s eyes, the four would-be armed robbers, three of them concealing firearms, are just random customers thrashing the blues of a Monday afternoon with rejuvenating sips of energy drinks and nutty chews on salted peanuts from the juvenile mother’s vending stall, whom he is holding the fort for.


His survival skills in the vending business have taught him to be both vigilant and non-judgmental at the same time.


He has to be careful, lest he is caught unawares, by friendly and not-so-friendly visitors alike: it comes with the terrain.


At the same time, he doesn’t have to judge or misjudge his potential customers, in case he drives them away.


In this line of business, one has to balance anxiety and fear; shrewdness and ingenuousness.


Police have since launched a manhunt for four suspects, who are still at large. The four have been identified as Knowledge Tsiga, Godknows Godfree Tshamala, Dennis Gumbi and Nkaniso Ndlovu.


“I am still traumatised, particularly by what could have been, and what the future holds,” the boy, who is now waiting for his Grade Seven results having written his last paper in October, opens up to The Herald.


It takes some persuading, on this Friday visit, for him to calm his nerves and recount the chilling details of an incident along Bryce Road in the Southerton industrial area, Harare, whose video footprints have criss-crossed the social media landscape since Monday.


In the videos, two vehicles, a white VW and a black Honda Fit with Botswana registration numbers, are shown blocking a pick-up truck driven by a bearded man clad in a sky-blue golf T-shirt, with his seatbelt on.


In a flash, two men, one in a blue work suit top and a hat, brandishing a pistol, and another one in a black T-shirt, black pair of jeans and a black cap inscribed “Always”, holding a double-edged unsheathed dagger, approach the victim’s car on the driver’s side as the two getaway cars clear the way.


One of them smashes the window and snatches something which is not immediately noticeable and retreats.


Seconds later, probably after noticing their error, they reapproach their quarry, one from the driver’s side, while the other smashes the passenger window, and grab a black bag, and something else not clearly discernible.


Leaving their terrified victim recollecting his senses, the robbers retreat to their gate-away cars as quickly as they had appeared.


It is now known that the victim, aged 27, lost US$253, cellphones and other valuables.


Not only is all this in the eyes of the boy, who moments earlier played host to them at his mother’s stall, but is also, unbeknown to the robbers, captured on the targeted vehicle’s dashboard cameras.


Dashboard cameras are small devices that record the road, and possibly the interior of the car as one drives.


They provide security and give information on possible causes in case of an accident. Also, they can help with insurance, emergency alerts, and simply immortalising road trip moments.


“There were four of them, with some of them wearing work suits. So, I mistook them for workers from somewhere in the industrial area,” he says, adding, “At first they stood across the road before one of them approached me and bought two dragon energy drinks.”


The lad says after, the second man bought two sachets of salted groundnuts and sat next to their vending stall.


“It didn’t occur to me that they were lying in wait for someone. It would take about an hour before the robbery occurred,” he says.


“It happened so fast that I couldn’t process it quickly enough. I remember seeing three of the men holding guns, approaching the car, hitting the windows and making good of a bag, which they took to the waiting black Honda Fit and sped off.”


Like many others around the Southerton industrial area, the boy is now fearing for his life.


“This was really new to me. It was the first time for us to see the men around this area. I am now living in fear, seeing that the robbery played out in my eyes. It was the least of my expectation that my good customers, all the while sitting at our stall, were armed with guns,” he recounts.


The four men, as the young vendor recalls, were new to their locale, but occurrences of robbery are not new, hence keeping residents around here on a knife-edge.


Brighton Chisamba, who works in the area, says the rate at which robbers were frequenting their area was worrying.


He recalls an incident last year when they were approached by three men and a woman, who said they were looking for three tyres, and paid with a US$100 note.


“After loading the tyres, the cashier noticed that she had been given fake money. When she confronted them at their car, they pointed a gun at her and drove off,” Chisamba says.


He adds that their neighbours, a Chinese company that manufactures roofing sheets, was also robbed last year in broad daylight.


“We are now living in fear that one day people will be killed for their hard-earned cash and property. If arrested and convicted, these robbers should be given lengthy sentences,” says Chisamba.


Leeroy Mwenga, who also works near the scene of the robbery encourages fellow citizens to report such cases to the police, so that justice is meted out on perpetrators for people to live peacefully.


Police have since launched a manhunt for four suspects, who are still at large. The four have been identified as Knowledge Tsiga, Godknows Godfree Tshamala, Dennis Gumbi and Nkaniso Ndlovu.


National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident, saying investigations were still in progress. Herald


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