The Sunday News
Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
A GANG of masked and armed robbers on Tuesday besieged a Salvation Army Church in Mbizo, Kwekwe where they got away with cash, property, groceries, laptops and the church vehicle.
The gang of four broke into the house where they tortured the church pastor and his family before looting cash amounting to US$400 and $700 and household property. They then used the church vehicle as a gateway car.
The car was later recovered at Halfway where the robbers dumped it. Although acting Midlands provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Ethel Mkwende professed ignorance over the matter saying she was yet to get information, the church’s public relations officer, Captain Victor Mafukidze, confirmed the robbery saying it was the latest in a spate of robberies targeting their church lately. Captain Mafukidze said their church has of late witnessed four robberies in a space of a month.
“Yes, I can confirm the robbery in Kwekwe which has become the latest in a number of robberies targeting our church.
“We are living in fear as we are now a target of armed robbers. I don’t know who told them that we keep money but the truth is that people are now using plastic money and we also bank all the cash that we receive,” he said.
Captain Mafukidze said another pastor who had come from Uganda, where he is based, to attend a funeral, was pounced on in Harare a week ago and the robbers took away cellphones and cash.
The church’s second in command was also a victim at OK Mart Harare where they took away cash and cellphones while another one took place in Kadoma where the robbers left the house empty after they got away with household property.
Captain Mafukidze said plans were underway to enhance security at their churches including keeping vicious dogs and installing cameras.
A Sunday News crew also visited the church premises in Mbizo and listened to the horrendous tale of what pastor Major Martin Chitsiko’s family went through during the robbery.
Mrs Chitsiko said the robbers, four in number, scaled the pre-cast wall before removing burglar bars using a crow bar and gained entry into the house.
“It was around 1am and our two daughters were sleeping in the spare bedroom when one of them saw a torch on the window. But since we stay near Mbizo Polyclinic, she just thought maybe it was one of the ambulances that usually ferry patients to the institution, little did she know they were robbers,” she said.
After gaining entry into the house through the window, the robbers headed straight to the main bedroom where they tied the couple’s hands and legs.
“The other robbers went to the girls’ room where they again tied the girls’ hands and legs using their body tops.
“They started beating us up with a hoe handle demanding cash. We gave them all we had and they kept demanding more saying they wanted the church money but we kept telling them that we bank all the church funds,” she said, fighting back tears.
Mrs Chitsiko said the robbers ransacked the bedroom searching everywhere but could not find any more money.
After being convinced there was indeed no more cash, the robbers took property and loaded it into a Toyota Gaia car which was parked outside and drove off, leaving the doors locked and the family still tied and traumatised.
“They took away all our cellphones, blankets, groceries, a brand new two-plate gas stove and its tank as well as two laptops and drove off. Our eldest daughter, however, managed to untie herself and came to our rescue. We then notified parishioners who stay nearby who helped make a police report,” she said.