Robbers strike at high school

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SIX armed robbers targeting school funds, last Saturday struck chillingly at Mavhudzi High School in Nyazura but failed to open the school safe. They got away with a vehicle and other valuables, leaving eight workers injured.

The Pajero Mini — belonging to the school head chef Benjamin Machacha — which was among the valuables stolen in the robbery at the Government school was on Tuesday recovered abandoned in Gutu after running out of fuel.

The robbers who were allegedly armed with two guns that include a Mossberg rifle, rounded up four security guards on duty before tricking three other kitchen staff members who had earlier reported for duty.

At least eight employees were caught up in the crossfire that left them with moderate to severe head injuries. The robbers attacked them with axe handles and blunt iron objects in a brutal attempt to cow them into submission.

The robbers — who are still at large — escaped in Machacha’s car after a school bursar whose quarters they had besieged demanding keys to the safe which was in the school head’s office — screamed for help.

Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa, confirmed both the robbery and recovery of the Pajero Mini, adding that investigations were at an advanced stage.

Those with information on the operations or whereabouts of the gang should contact CID Rusape on 0772660566 or any nearest police station.

Insp Kakohwa said Simon Mapute (43), a security guard manning the northern gate, was approached by two of the robbers who ordered him to unlock the gate. When Simon told the robbers that the keys were kept by his supervisor, one of the criminals who had a Mossberg gun cocked it and threatened to shoot him.

At this point, three more robbers emerged from nowhere and manhandled the guard. They forcibly took Simon’s Nokia 1110 handset and one of the suspects attacked him on the left ear and right eye with an axe handle.

“Three other guards on duty heard the commotion from the guardroom and proceeded to investigate. However, they were also captured and assaulted by the gang. All the four guards were force-marched to the school head’s office where the door was forcibly opened using a sharp object. Their hands were then tied with ropes,” said Insp Kakohwa.

He added,“Benjamin Machacha, a chef at the school, was coming for duty driving his Pajero Mini through the same northern gate. Two of the criminals opened the gate for him, and thinking that the school had employed new guards, Machacha never suspected anything until one of the suspects grabbed and pulled him out of the vehicle and hit him on the head with an iron bar.”

Machacha was also force-marched to the school head’s office. While in the head’s office, the robbers tried to open a safe, but failed.

“The other three robbers who were outside spotted Panganai Arumando (43), who had also reported for duty and attacked him before force-marching him to the bursar’s cottage which is about 800m from the main gate. They forced open Zvidzai Chakara (36)’s room and assaulted him together with other staff members – demanding to see the school bursar, Edinah Mudutu (43). The robbers went to Mudutu’s room and forced open the door with a sharp iron bar,” said Insp Kakohwa.

They assaulted Mudutu demanding keys to the safe. Mudutu screamed for help forcing the robbers to flee.

“As they ran away, one of the accused persons phoned their counterparts who were looking for cash in the head’s office, jumped into Machacha’s car and sped off from the scene,” said Insp Kakohwa.

The school’s security supervisor, Mr Pasipanodya Run’anga (46), made a report to the police, and the scene was attended by CID and dog departments. Authorities at the school were advised to install security cameras, sensor lights, and burglar alarms.