‘Looted 2017 Coup Guns Behind Spike In Armed Robberies’: Ex-Minister

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By Staff Reporter

FIREARMS used to carry out a spate of armed robberies in recent months were grabbed from the police and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officers by soldiers during the November 2017 military-assisted coup, a former government minister has sensationally claimed.

Exiled former Higher Deputy Minister Godfrey Gandawa a number of soldiers and police officers implicated in recent armed robbers across the country could have stolen the firearms from the state armoury or at roadblocks during the November 2017 coup.

This was after state security agents suspected to be “hostile to the coup-makers” were disarmed.

Most of the guns, according to Gandawa, were seized from the police or CIO agents who were believed to be loyal to the Zanu PF G40 faction and then President Robert Mugabe.

According to Gandawa, the firearms were not returned to the state armoury.

Zimbabwe is witnessing a surge in armed robberies involving serving and retired soldiers and police officers. Some of the firearms that have been recovered after the robberies have been traced back to the state.

However, Gandawa, who is in self-exile in South Africa since the November 2017 coup, said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was unable to account for state armoury some of the firearms were looted by soldiers since there was no proper handover-takeover after the removal of Mugabe from office.

“The seemingly sudden wave of armed robberies involving members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is linked to the chaotic, unlawful and dangerous takeover of armouries during the 2017 coup, where the police and intelligence services were disarmed without a formal handover-takeover process,” Gandawa said.

He added: “During the coup, every level of security perceived as hostile to the coup-makers was disarmed with weapons taken from lawful possession even at traffic stops. This chaotic process included no documentation. It is unclear that these weapons were returned to state custody.”

In one of the robberies, two soldiers are reported to have shot dead a man in a US$40 000 robbery heist in Hatfield, Harare, on December 24, last year.

The two soldiers have since been arrested and are in remand prison.

Two other soldiers were also implicated in one of the biggest heists that occurred in January last year where they allegedly connived with security guards manning a cash-in-transit vehicle and stole US$2,7 million belonging to ZB Bank.

Charles Chirara, who was implicated in a US$2,7 million heist, was one of the two soldiers shot dead while robbing the home of a retired police detective, Joseph Nemaisa in Chadcombe, Harare, last December.

However, the ZDF recently expressed concern over the increased involvement of members of the army in criminal activities and appealed to the public to report the rogue soldiers.