Money, noise just don’t mix

. . . careless spending lands US$2,7m heist suspects in trouble


AN UNCONTROLLED spending spree is the last thing any self-respecting heist participant can do as this leads to nowhere other than prison.
As they say, “money doesn’t need noise. That’s why you don’t play music in the bank, so be humble and spend wisely”. The year opened with arguably the biggest heist ever to be recorded in the history of the country, with
US$2,7 million vanishing in a coordinated attack by a gang of robbers.

Circumstances are that on January 6, three bank guards — Nomatter Jonga, Mathew Simango, Fanuel Musakwa — were on their way to distribute the money to branches in Chinhoyi, Kadoma, Kwekwe, Gweru, Bulawayo, Gwanda and Zvishavane.

Along the way, the guards allegedly picked up their accomplices and then faked a heist just before they reached Chinhoyi. During police questioning, the trio’s testimonies were inconsistent leading to their arrest and that of their alleged accomplices.

Police insisted it was just a matter of time before the suspects could be picked up. Close to US$800 000 has since been recovered among the 15 suspects arrested thus far. With reports that 23 people participated in the heist and walked away with an estimated over US$100 000 each, it was just a matter of days before some of the suspects made mistakes and got arrested.

Some could not behave with such a huge amount of money in their possession and it made noise. A number of the suspects allegedly went on a spending spree, some buying cars they could only dream of, obviously raising eyebrows in communities they hail from. The police knew it, held the guards who had been sent to deliver the money in custody for a few days and the real participants emerged.

Two of the security guards have since been freed on bail with the State intending to withdraw charges against them.
Where there is “quid to choke a donkey” and for someone not used to such amounts, it makes noise and
leads them into trouble.

One Tichaona Njowa is said to have seen his cousin Job, son to one of the alleged masterminds of the heist, digging a pit and hiding US$100 000. He allegedly dug the money out and went on a spending spree in the Mhondoro area, booking lodges which he would only dream of. The police said he allegedly bought a Honda Fit and when it developed a fault, he dumped it and bought another.

He reportedly even paid a bribe of US$5 000 to a person who saw him digging the money out. His penchant for the good life, the police claimed, raised eyebrows in the community and when the police swooped on him, he was allegedly at pains to explain his sudden wealth and with minimum force, he reportedly let the cat out of the bag.

Several other suspects are accused of having spent the loot buying cars and going for beer binges which reportedly led to their arrest. Another suspect, Denis Madondo reportedly bought a Mercedes Benz E320 and when he was arrested reportedly led to the recovery of US$62 500.

Tatenda Gadzikwa, 39, another suspect in the robbery, is alleged to have purchased a Toyota Hilux and led to the recovery of US$63 000 after his arrest. Five other suspects — Gerald Rutizira, Kelvin Musakwa, Tendai Zuze, Neverson Mwamuka and Trymore Chapfika — were arrested and led to the recovery of various cars and amounts.

Musakwa allegedly led to the recovery of US$48 000 and Zuze led to the recovery of US$35 082 and a Toyota Quantum he had bought with the money. Mwamuka reportedly led to the recovery of US$74 844 and had bought a Honda Fit, while Chapfika led to the recovery of US$38 900.

Another suspect, Charles Chirara’s alleged US$100 000 loot led to the arrest of his wife and sisters who had reportedly tried to hide the money.

They had found new lodgings in Bluffhill, Harare, where the police reportedly found them hiding with the loot. The world is replete with felons who were outed because of their “reckless” spending of proceeds of crimes.

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