POLICE have roped in the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) and their counterparts in South Africa and Botswana to assist in locating four armed robbers who escaped arrest following a major raid in Beitbridge last week.
A gang of eight most wanted suspected armed robbers, including the notorious Musa Taj Abdul (46) and a police officer who was harbouring them, were arrested in the major raid in Beitbridge on August 24.
Warrants of arrest for Taj Abdul dated back to 1999 while his accomplices had warrants outstanding from 2018 and 2019. Two of the four suspects who escaped the Beitbridge raid, Abednigo Dhlamini and Elias Mpofu, alias Jabulani or Obasanjo, are believed to have crossed into South Africa.
The other two Brian Murape and Carlington Marasha are suspected to be still in Zimbabwe. Sources close to the investigations yesterday confirmed that they were working with Interpol and their counterparts to assist in locating these outstanding suspects.
The ZRP has also approached their counterparts in the neighbouring countries to be furnished with details regarding the number of cases that the gang committed in these countries and are yet to get the responses.
Once their cases have been finalised here, the gang members are likely to be handed over to these countries to face prosecution as part of the ongoing investigations.
Police have been chasing Taj Abdul for close to two decades, but his run came to an abrupt end last Monday when he was nabbed together with a fired former Masvingo Central police officer Rudolf Kanhanga alias Tapiwa Munatsi (29), Liberty Mupamhanga (29), Prince Makodza (31), Godfrey Mupamhanga (27), Charles Lundu (47) and Innocent Jairos (32).
Investigations carried out so far revealed that Charles Lundu and Prince Makodza had fake identification cards bearing the names Enock Rimuwa and Paddington Matira respectively.
The CID Homicide has since engaged the Registrar-General’s Office to assist with investigations on the fake IDs. It is believed that Lundu and Makodza acquired the IDs to evade police arrests since they were on the wanted lists. The gang is suspected to have committed most of its robberies in the capital.
A silver Norinco pistol with an obliterated serial number and a magazine with 11 rounds, 19×12 bore gauge live rounds in a webbing belt placed in a black satchel stashed in a washing basket, and a pair of number plates AEX 1577 were recovered from the suspects after their arrest in Beitbridge.
A balaclava was found stashed in their getaway car. The gang was being sought in connection with a number of armed robberies, including the Mashwede case in Harare recently.
Sources said Taj Abdul, who was once convicted in 1995 for tampering with a motor vehicle, is also wanted for questioning in Botswana and South Africa over robberies in those countries, and Zimbabwean police will soon advise their counterparts. It is believed the gang owns several properties in South Africa, bought using proceeds of their criminal enterprise.