Police have warned both businesses and members of the public to be wary of gangs of armed robbers who have mounted a spate of heists, particularly in and around Harare — in a new crime wave that is targeting companies and homesteads.
The warning comes as the dangerous robbers have also used detonators to rob a fuel station on the outskirts of Harare last week, among their other recent heists.
“Armed robbers are on the prowl and members of the public are therefore discouraged from keeping large sums of money in person, cars and business premises.
“Police are urging the public to deposit their money in banks and engage reputable security companies to guard their premises.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police is concerned with the cases of armed robbery that of late have been occurring mainly at service stations and other business premises,” national police spokesperson, Paul Nyathi, warned yesterday.
“We also urge the public to desist from travelling during the night, especially in isolated places, to avoid being victims of this heinous crime.
“The robbers target places where they know large sums of money are being kept, by pouncing on their unsuspecting victims. In most instances, they are armed with pistols or dangerous weapons,” he added.
Elaborating on the criminals’ modus operandi, Nyathi said one or more of these lowlifes would enter the targeted places and point a weapon at people there, before announcing that a robbery was under way and stealing valuables.
In one incident, on April 22 this year, five robbers wearing hoodies stormed a fuel station in Beatrice, holding hostage four employees at gunpoint, including a security guard.
They subsequently broke into an office and blew open a safe using explosives, before escaping with $10 161.
On April 26, Nyathi said, armed robbers also left a Chegutu man for dead after they attacked him with an okapi knife and machete, while he was on his way to Bosbury Mine.
In another Harare incident at Hopley Farm in Waterfalls, a 40-year-old woman and her teenage daughter were attacked by two armed robbers while they were on their way to the tobacco auction floors.
Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday attributed the alarming rise in crime to the country’s dying economy and the worsening poverty levels.
Zimbabwe is deep in the throes of a debilitating economic crisis which has led to horrendous company closures and the consequent loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
At the same time, economists have said that poverty levels in the country are skyrocketing, with average incomes now at their lowest levels in more than 60 years — with more than 76 percent of the country’s families now having to make do with pitiful incomes that are well below the poverty datum line.
This comes as Zimbabwe has recently been officially ranked as the poorest country in Africa.
According to the Africa 2016 Wealth Report, Zimbabwe has been ranked as the country with the poorest people on the continent, with average wealth of $200 per person.
In the report, AfrAsia — a Mauritius-domiciled financial institution which once operated in Zimbabwe after acquiring the now-defunct Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited — noted that back in 2000, Zimbabwe was one of the wealthiest countries in sub-Saharan Africa on a wealth per capita basis