$90,000 heist: trial dates set for rogue soldier, cop

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TWO security services officers who took advantage of last November’s military coup to rob a businessman of about $90,000 will go on trial next month, a Harare court ruled last week.

Presidential guard soldier, Elvis Machinga, and convicted ZRP officer, Fortune Sibanda, will face trial on April 30 along with accomplices Vengai Shoko, Gift Chimuka, one Banga and a Matuke.

The group reportedly robbed Harare businessman Jaesh Shah last November while pretending to be carrying out the Operation Restore Legacy military operation which ousted then president Robert Mugabe.

Sibanda, a cop, was on bail pending appeal having been convicted and sentenced to four years in jail for robbing another Indian businessman of $56,000, earlier this year at a fake road block.

In the latest case, court heard that Shah owns Gift Investments which imports buses for the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (Zupco).

Prosecutors say on the 28th of November, the suspects drove to Shah’s Avondale West offices and confronted a security guard purporting to be military police.

The gang produced pistols and ordered the guard to surrender the gate keys which they used to access the property.

Pretending they were on a state-sanctioned operation, the group searched the premises before leaving after realising Shah was not at work.

According to the State, the gang returned the following day at around 9am, found Shah at work and forcibly entered his office.

They accused him of working with former cabinet ministers Ignatius Chombo and Saviour Kasukuwere to sponsor the ruling Zanu PF party’s G40 faction in a conspiracy to assassinate President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The gang ransacked Shah’s office and reportedly stole $15,000, 410 Singapore dollars, 3,050 Dubai dhiram, 16,000 Thai bhat and 4,000 Hong Kong dollars.

Prosecutors say the group dragged Shah and his secretary, Louise Smith, into his Hyundai Sonata vehicle and drove to Rainbow Towers Hotel.

The suspects reportedly threatened to assault Shah and detain him at Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks in Harare before searching and taking $6,000 from his wallet.

Court heard they forced the businessman to disclose where he kept his money after which Shah directed them to his Gift Investment Company premises in Southerton.

The gang then told the tycoon to order his wife to bring keys to the company premises. When she arrived, they all drove Southerton where the gang stole $70,000 from the company safe.

According to prosecutors, the suspects then went to Shah’s home and ransacked the property but failed to find more money.

The suspects later gave Shah $4,500 in cash and ordered him to leave the country immediately and never return before they went away with their loot.