ARMED robbers stormed the Harare residence of retired Lieutenant General Engelbert Rugeje yesterday — before one of them was shot dead by his security aides, the Daily News reports.
Rugeje was among the military bosses who were credited with deposing the late former president Robert Mugabe from power in a stunning but widely-supported coup in November 2017.
At the time that the brazen robbers stormed his home, Rugeje was said to be away.
National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident to the Daily News yesterday, adding that investigations were under way.
“Seven suspects stormed the Harare home of Rugeje, and they had a scuffle with security details.
“As a result, one suspect was shot dead. Investigations are under way and more details will be made available in due course,” Nyathi said.
Rugeje retired from the military after the 2017 coup, and was appointed Zanu PF’s national political commissar until after the historic 2018 national elections.
He was replaced in that position by deputy Defence minister Victor Matemadanda.
The incident at his home yesterday comes as police have been tracking notorious armed robbers who have been involved in a spate of violent crimes at business premises and private homes around the country.
Two months ago, law enforcement agents busted one of the country’s most notorious armed robbery gangs during a shoot-out in Beitbridge.
The terror gang included Musa Taj Abdul, 46 — who police alleged was a criminal who had been on the run for 20 years.
Others arrested then included Liberty Mupamhanga, 29; Prince Makodza, 31; Godfrey Mupamhanga, 27; Charles Lundu, 47; Rudolf Kanhanga, 29; Innocent Jairos, 32; and Tapiwa Mangoma, 27.
During the arrest of these alleged robbers and murderers, police recovered an assortment of weapons that the gang were using in their criminal activities.
“The gang was arrested whilst hiding in a certain house. They scaled precast walls trying to escape, with police in hot pursuit and assisted by the Canine Section, firing shots to effect the arrest of the armed robbers.
“The police recovered a silver Noringo pistol, a magazine with 11 rounds, 19 x 12 bore gauge live rounds, a pair of number plates AEX 1577 and a black face mask,” Nyathi said then.
He also said the gang was suspected to have carried out several high profile heists which occurred at Mashwede Holdings, Glen Norah B, Blue Circle, Marlborough and Makoni Shopping Centre, among other robberies that police are investigating.
Abdul and his gang allegedly escaped arrest in March after robbing prominent Harare businessmen Tawanda Nyambirai and Rodney Dangarembizi of more than US$220 000.
They allegedly first pounced at Dangarembizi’s premises where they forcibly took away US$37 000, two vehicles and 13 cellphones — before proceeding to Nyambirai’s office where they took a safe with US$180 000.
At Makoni Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza, the gang allegedly fired 10 shots into the air and robbed two foreign currency dealers of US$7 000, up to $30 000 and a Toyota Allion.
The nine robbers, who were wearing masks, jumped off a Toyota Hilux truck armed with pistols, rifles and a machete before one of them ordered the foreign currency dealers to lie down.
On April 5, they were said to have proceeded to Mashwede while driving four separate vehicles, a black Toyota IST, Subaru, Toyota Mark X and Honda Fit. The gang wore masks then and were armed with a gun.
They allegedly confronted two security guards who were manning the premises and threatened to shoot them if they raised the alarm.
They were said to have tied up the security guards with cables, before allegedly breaking safes and escaping with US$99 075 and R42 000.
The notorious gang is currently languishing in prison awaiting for trial.