The Sunday News
Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
TWENTY-SEVEN passengers aboard an MB Transport bus heading for Beitbridge were early yesterday robbed of money and valuables worth thousands of dollars by three gunmen, some 20 kilometres before the border town.
The incident occurred soon after the Lutumba tollgate along the Beitbridge-Masvingo highway. The bus was reportedly travelling from Harare with 33 people on board including the bus crew and the three suspects. MB Transport proprietor Mr Brian Mungofa confirmed the incident yesterday.
“The robbers boarded the bus in Harare on Friday along with other 27 passengers at the Mbudzi traffic circle. They then attacked the passengers early in the morning at Lutumba area. They were three suspects and have gone into hiding. The matter has been reported to the police,” said Mr Mungofa.
It could not be readily verified how much was stolen from the passengers. National Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the matter was under investigation.
“I can confirm that we are investigating a case of three suspects who robbed some passengers in a bus they had boarded from Harare and travelling to Beitbridge,” he said.
The incident occurred a few hours after 58 Zimbabweans travelling to Harare from South Africa were robbed of valuables by two gunmen who had followed them from Johannesburg. The bus driver, Mr Thembane Ngwenya survived death by a whisker after two bullets narrowly missed his head when one of the robbers shot at him at close range. According to Mr Ngwenya, the suspects shot at the bus inducing a mechanical fault resulting in him stopping after struggling to engage gears.
“They demanded R40 000 which they alleged had been given to the bus crew by one client in Johannesburg. They searched everyone and took away phones and money and left after they were convinced we had no money,” said Mr Ngwenya.
Of late there has been an increase in cases where armed robbers target Zimbabwean cross-border buses in South Africa.
After boarding the buses mainly in Pretoria they then attack the passengers in bushes between Hamanskraal and Polokwane.
Over 15 buses have been attacked by armed gangs in the last 12 months. In addition, more than six buses have been attacked by armed robbers between Lutumba and Beitbridge town by armed robbers who pretend to be passengers but later attack their victims especially those travelling from Harare to South Africa for shopping.