A Beitbridge-bound Smart Express bus was raided by a gang of six armed robbers yesterday morning. A police officer was shot and 59 passengers lost their valuables and money in the incident.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident, saying the bus was travelling from Mutare to Beitbridge and the robbery occurred 20 km before Beitbridge at around 3 am.
He said the six suspected armed robbers and the injured police officer had all boarded the bus in Masvingo.
“We are investigating a case where 60 people including a police officer on board a Smart Express bus were robbed at gunpoint of their valuables by six yet to be known men.
“Preliminary investigations reveal that the suspects boarded the bus in Masvingo along with the police officer.
“When the bus was getting closer to Lutumba Business Centre, the driver inquired if anyone was disembarking at the point.
“He did not get any response, and suddenly four men stood up from the back and walked towards the door, where the police officer was seated”.
He said one of the suspects who had heard the policeman identifying himself to the bus crew in Masvingo shot him in the left buttock once.
Ass Comm Nyathi said the suspects then fired more warning shot and ordered everyone to lie down, forcing the driver to stop the bus.
“They took US$108 from the injured police officer.
“The matter was then reported to the police who rushed their colleague to the hospital for medical attention. He is in a stable condition and still under treatment and observation.”
Ass Comm Nyathi said the police were worried about the recurrence of hijackings and armed robberies along the Masvingo to Beitbridge and Bulawayo to Beitbridge routes.
During the fracas, some passengers managed to escape through the windows. The total amount of stolen property is yet to be established.
Police have since launched a manhunt for the suspects while the injured cop, Sergeant Desire Hombarume, is admitted at Beitbridge District Hospital where he is reported to be in a stable condition.
He advised public transporters to observe the 10 pm to 6 am curfew regulations.