Man loses R500k to armed robbers

By Rex Mphisa

A BEITBRIDGE man on Sunday reportedly lost more than half a million rand to armed robbers, who shot him seven times before driving away in his car.

Muchineripi Hlaringo, a known money-changer and transport operator, is lucky to be alive after robbers allegedly shot him seven times after tying his wife with ropes and made her watch the shooting.

The woman was not hurt, according to sources close to Hlaringo.

“They broke in and headed for the drawer where money was kept. Later, they tied his wife and then shot him. They drove away in his car and also took away two pairs of takkies (canvas shoes) and mobile phone gadgets,” the source said.

“They shot him on his hands, legs and stomach. He was taken to Beitbridge (District) Hospital and later to Bulawayo.

“He said he saw someone matching the description of a man who has just been released on bail pending appeal.”

Hlaringo’s neighbours complained about lack of police visibility in their area, which has no tower lights and on the outskirts of Beitbridge along the highway to Bulawayo.

“We have no street lights and it is highly improbable to meet a policeman this side,” a neighbour said.

Matabeleland South police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele said he was not aware of the incident and asked for more time to be briefed by his workmates. At the time of
going to print, he was no longer picking calls.

The robbery was barely four days after armed robbers allegedly struck Pagomba Bar.

The operator of Pagomba Cafe, Kafuma Simbini, said he did not want to discuss the matter as he was still in mourning.

“I first have to tell my mother than anyone else. I lost relatives in Chimanimani during Cyclone Idai and now this. I am still mourning. Come after two weeks,” he said.
Robbers are said to have hit and stripped naked some workers and leisurely combed through the entertainment joint and walked away after the 3am hit.

At Chicago, plain clothes police officers came face-to-face with a wanted robber and opened fire, but missed as he walked away in broad daylight. He is yet to be accounted for.

Witnesses said the plain clothes policemen, who had not identified themselves, later followed the man, but failed to account for him.

“People at the centre thought the policemen were robbers and then attacked the owner of the shop, accusing him of bringing undesirables. They cut tyres of his car and when his friend
tried to intervene he, was stabbed and injured,” a source said.

At Makhado Police, 80km west of Beitbridge, police were accused of releasing poachers caught red-handed by villagers who then invited police to the scene.

“Police were called to the scene and found the poachers with meat which they asked the suspects to load it into their car before setting them free,” a villager said.

The police officer who attended the scene, identified as Mutasa, confirmed recovering the meat, but stammered when asked about the whereabouts of the poachers.

“… we have recovered the meat yes and the poachers helped us load it into the car.

Speak to my boss he knows better,” he said.

A police officer, who identified himself as the member in charge, referred questions to his provincial office.

Cases of robberies have increased in Beitbridge, where an officer in charge of Beitbridge Urban, Chief Inspector Kenneth Mushongahande, is accused of refusing to be transferred
following questionable decisions, including poor deployment of manpower.

He allegedly roped in a senior government officials to reject a transfer to Zaka following a series of operational failures, including failing to arrest Vice-President Kembo Mohadi for
an alleged assault.

Earlier last week, armed robbers knocked on the police door when they robbed staff at an unguarded popular entertainment centre a few metres away from the crime epicentre of Beitbridge,
where they are said to have gotten away with R15 000 and S$1 500.

In a wrap-up to a violent weekend, a cross-border transport operator was stabbed at Lutumba business centre.

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