In the cemetery silence of the night in the leafy Northlea Suburb of Gweru, robbers broke into a house, gathered the occupants in a corner, foraged the fridge and pantry, switched on stoves and cooked a chicken meal, before getting away with groceries and cash.
So daring were the robbers that they even asked for some spices and chilly sauce to make their meal delicious to their liking.
As if that was not enough, they offered their prepared meal to their hostages.
This is not a script for a crime movie but a real act of dare-devil robbers, who have become the talk of Gweru City and beyond.
Ms Blessing Hlahla (52), woke up to a loud and violent bang from the kitchen direction.
As she shook off the lethargy of slumber and fumbled the walls for the light switch, she was greeted with a slap on the face that sent her reeling to the ground.
As she writhed in pain and her mind struggled to process whether she was dreaming or really living a horror moment, Gogo Hlahla, came to reality after a barrage of harsh words, accompanied by flash slaps and kicks.
“Muka tiende kubedroom kwako, unani muno (wake up and show us your bedroom and other occupants of this house).”
“I immediately realised my house had been broken into and the intruders were now after me and everyone in the house. I wanted to scream but quickly realised I could get myself into deep trouble or even get shot because I did not know how armed they were,” narrated Ms Hlahla, yesterday.
“I was dragged back into my room while other robbers were opening doors of other rooms looking for more occupants.”
There were five or so intruders from what Ms Hlahla deduced.
She could not count them for the cardinal rule and order from the intruders was that she was not supposed to raise her head to look at her assailants. She also had to answer a barrage of questions.
Any delay in answer would attack a slap or a beating with an object.
While in her bedroom she was thrown into her bed and covered with the blanket in face while the robbers asked for money.
Her last born son and a maid were also held hostage in the other room and were also ordered to cover their faces with blankets.
Ms Hlahla was alone in her bedroom while her maid and her last born son were in the other room when the five men armed with a machete and a knife broke into their house.
“We were tortured by these robbers as they held us hostage for close to four hours while in the house,” she said.
“So daring were the robbers that they even switched on our stoves and started cooking food in a stark declaration they had taken over the affairs of the house.
Lucia Nemananga (18) a maid at the house said the robbers would come into the room they were held hostage and ask if there were any spices and other edibles to make the food they were preparing more delicious.
“They even at some point came and asked if we were also hungry so they could also give us food but we turned them down,” she said.
After feasting on the meal they prepared with chicken and some spices they found in the house, the suspects then started beating Ms Hlahla and Nemananga while demanding money.
“Ms Hlahla had $300 in the house and she gave them but they continued to beat her as they thought they could get more money, it was a horrible experience, we could not scream as we were constantly being threatened with death.
They had taken away all our phones and we were just at their mercy,” she said.
Memananga said the robbers only got out of the house round 4 am and left them locked inside.
“They took away a number of grocery items from the house, including mealie meal and some chickens from the fridge,” said Nemananga.
She said they remained in the house until the wee hours of Wednesday when they then raised an SOS.
“It was so terrifying that we only started screaming after we had alerted our neighbours who had just gathered at our house to find out what had happened,” she said.
When The Herald visited the house yesterday, police were still at the scene gathering details, while Ms Hlahla had gone to the hospital for treatment.
Midlands provincial police spokesperson Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko who confirmed the incident said the suspects got away with some cash, cellphones and foodstuffs, all valued at $2 500.
“Police are investigating a case of robbery in which a family in Northlea surbub was robbed when five men gang armed with a machete and a knife broke into the house through the window on Tuesday night,” he said.
Insp Mahoko said one of the suspects attempted to rape a female victim in the house but was unsuccessful.
He said police have launched a manhunt for the suspects.
“All the suspects are still at large,” said Inspector. Herald