Toy guns used as robberies spike
FIVE men, two armed with toy guns, pounced on a Major Petroleum Service Station in Bulawayo and bashed workers with hammers and a knobkerrie before fleeing with $700 and four cell phones.
The incident happened on Thursday at about 9PM.
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the incident.
“Investigations have revealed that the robbers, who are still at large, used toy guns,” she said.
Sources at the service station said the robbers arrived at around 9PM and rounded up two fuel attendants and two customers at gun point.
Two of the robbers allegedly held the guns, while others were armed with a hammer, knobkerries and an axe.
“Three men were on duty at the service station while two others had come to service the pumps,” said a one of the victims who declined to be named.
“Ziphozenkosi Gumbo of Pumula South suburb was seriously injured. They hit him on the forehead, back and on the knees with a hammer and a knobkerrie. They took his cell phone, a Nokia Asha, and an undisclosed amount of cash that he had.
“We suspect he sustained serious internal injuries because they hammered him and hit him hard with a knobkerrie,” said the source.
A fuel attendant said he was assaulted with a hammer and the robbers kicked him in the face and back before taking away his Nokia cell phone.
“The robbers surrounded us and produced weapons. They ordered us to lie on the ground. They beat us up and took away our cellphones and cash.
“My back is painful but I’m better than Gumbo who sustained serious injuries. We rushed him to Mpilo (Central Hospital) where he is being treated. Doctors are still assessing the extent of his injuries,” he said.
The attendant said one of the clients was assaulted with a pistol butt at the back of his head and on the waist. He also lost his cellphone, a Huawei cell phone, and $4. His partner was not beaten up but they also took away his cell phone, a Huawei.
The fuel attendants said the men left them lying on the ground and fled from the scene.
The workers informed their employer Mr Shayawabaya Masara (41) of the matter.
“I quickly surrendered all the cash and told him of what was happening outside and he immediately informed the police” said an attendant. Mr Masara declined to comment. ‘‘I don’t want the story made public,” he said. On Wednesday, an armed pair pounced at an Engen Service Station in Magwegwe and got away with $26 cash and a Galaxy S1 cell phone.
The robbery came barely a day after another team of four gun-toting robbers got away with over $20 000 at the Savanna Tobacco offices in Windsor Park.
They gagged and tied up a cashier identified as Miss Azellia Madzorera after forcing her to give them keys to a safe.
The robbers took $20 675 and fled in a Honda Fit vehicle.
In July, robbers pounced at Barons Motor Spares in Bulawayo and got away with about $36 000. The closed-circuit television (CCTV) and the alarms at the shop were disabled during the elaborate robbery at one of the city’s biggest vehicle spares outlets.
Last year, a group of masked burglars blew up safes at Bulawayo’s Bellevue Choppies supermarket (formerly Bellevue Spar) and got away with more than $16 000. The robbers allegedly used shears to cut through the roof of the outlet during the night.
Police arrested the robbers barely a week after they committed the crime. A few weeks before that, robbers hit Bulawayo’s Richmond Spar and got away with more than $10 000. Two months earlier, robbers had pounced on six Bulawayo schools, getting away with more than $4 000. — @winnie_masara
Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba
Armed robbers pounced on Major Petroleum Service Station in Bulawayo and got away with $700