ZNA Soldiers Arrested in $142K Armed Robbery Scandal

Military Members Linked to Multiple High-Profile Heists

by Adenike Adeodun

In a stunning breach of trust, three members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), along with six other suspects, have been apprehended for their alleged involvement in a series of high-stakes armed robberies totaling over US$142,000. This scandalous revelation highlights serious issues within the ranks of the ZNA, shaking public confidence and exposing potential vulnerabilities in national security measures.

The group, consisting of nine men, was formally charged and appeared before Harare Magistrate Taurai Manuwere, who ordered their remand in custody pending a bail hearing set for May 2. The suspects, identified by Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, include Innocent Chawaguta, Tafadzwa Chirinda Charute, Owen Mbayi, Promise Mussa, Tapiwa Chigwaze, Winston Matizanadzo, Kamuriwo Mudziwaona, Farai Chauke, and Simbarashe Vhazhure. Their ages range from 33 to 46 years.

This case unfolded dramatically when, on May 16, 2022, the suspects reportedly scaled a wall into J and P Security company premises in Eastlea, Harare. Captured on CCTV, they overpowered the security personnel after being spotted by guards monitoring surveillance cameras. Armed with pistols and rifles, the criminals bound the guards, raided the strong room, and absconded with US$142,995 and six firearms, a stark demonstration of their preparedness and audacity.

Further compounding their spree, on March 28 of the following year, the same group allegedly targeted a service station. Disguised as customers, they drove up in two vehicles, a silver Nissan AD van and a white Mitsubishi. As one of the robbers brandished a pistol, causing the fuel attendants to flee, others armed with AK-47 rifles and pistols subdued the security guard, attempting to access the station’s safe with explosives. Despite their efforts, they failed to retrieve the money.

Assistant Commissioner Nyathi, addressing the media, linked these suspects to additional robberies in Harare, Murehwa, and Shamva, indicating a broader pattern of criminal activities. Nyathi’s statement was clear: “The suspects are clearing five armed robberies, initially, but I want to assure Zimbabweans that as investigations continue all cases in which these suspects were involved are going to be reviewed.” He emphasized the gravity of the situation, especially the involvement of military personnel, asserting that any member of the security forces caught engaging in criminal activities would face severe consequences.

This series of events not only marks a significant security breach but also raises pressing questions about the integrity and oversight within the Zimbabwe National Army. The involvement of its members in such serious crimes betrays a disturbing readiness to exploit their skills and access to weapons for criminal ends. This has inevitably led to a discussion about the need for stricter controls and more rigorous background checks within the military to prevent such incidents in the future.

The case has also highlighted the effectiveness of surveillance and quick response teams in mitigating the impact of such robberies. The fact that the suspects were apprehended and linked to multiple incidents suggests a level of coordination and technological adeptness on the part of law enforcement agencies.

As the legal proceedings against these suspects continue, the focus will undoubtedly remain on the implications of this case for the ZNA and other security forces. It serves as a stark reminder of the challenges of policing within ranks and the constant vigilance needed to maintain public trust in institutions meant to protect and serve.

This incident will likely prompt a review of security protocols and measures within the ZNA and potentially other branches of the security forces. It underscores the importance of integrity and vigilance in the fight against crime, even among those who are supposed to be its staunchest opponents. The outcome of this case could very well determine the future strategies for dealing with similar breaches, ensuring that those who are meant to uphold the law are also held accountable for it.


Source: Newsday

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