The Sunday Mail
2020 was a particularly busy year for the police as efforts to contain rising incidences of violent crime were redoubled.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe partly blamed the disturbing trend on the repatriation of hardcore criminals from neighbouring countries because of Covid-19.
In May alone, over 129 ex-prisoners were repatriated from South Africa.
Police also reported an increase in murders largely due to rituals, infidelity, domestic disputes, alcohol abuse and debts.
Here we highlight some of the major crime incidences of the year
End of the road for Taj, gang
One of the country’s most wanted criminals, Musa Taj Abdul, also known as Salim Rahman (47), was finally apprehended in dramatic circumstances after close to two decades on the run.
He was arrested along six other suspected armed robbers in Beitbridge, in what was perhaps the biggest criminal bust by police this year.
Police detectives from CID Homicide in Harare working with the canine unit accounted for Abdul along with Rudolf Kanhanga (29), Beitbridge-based police officer Tapiwa Mangoma (27), Liberty Mupamhanga (29), Prince Makodza (31), Godfrey Mupamhanga (27), Charles Lundu (47) and Innocent Jairos (32) in August.
The gang is linked to several armed robberies, including the infamous Mashwede heist, where the criminal gang reportedly made off with over US$100 000 and R42 000 in cash.
Police swooped on the gang of suspected robbers at a house in Tshitaudze suburb, Beitbridge, where they were being hosted by Mangoma.
Abdul, Mupamhanga, Makodza, Lundu and Munatsi suffered dog bite injuries as they sought to evade arrest following the surprise raid.
The gang is currently on remand.
Murehwa ritual murder
The gruesome murder of seven-year-old Tapiwa Makore from Makore Village under Chief Mangwende in Murehwa sent shockwaves throughout the country.
It was arguably one of the most shocking murder cases reported this year.
The minor’s uncle and namesake Tapiwa Makore Snr (57) is alleged to have ordered the hit, which was carried out on September 17 by Tafadzwa Shamba (40), a family herdsman.
Shamba recounted to police how he dismembered the boy’s body, separating legs, hands and the head from the torso.
The confession was captured on video and went viral.
Shamba said he lured the boy to his home where he drugged him before carrying him into a nearby bushy area in the middle of the night.
He subsequently cut his head and limbs off with the assistance of Makore Senior.
The incident came to light after dogs dragged the boy’s torso into a village compound the following morning.
The gruesome nature of the incident raised suspicion that the suspects intended to use the limbs for ritual purposes.
Tapiwa’s head is yet to be recovered.
Chivhu woman goes berserk
In yet another gruesome murder case, a Chivhu woman, Emelda Marazani (29), allegedly killed her four minor children by slitting their throats before setting the family home on fire.
The children were aged nine, five, three and one.
She is alleged to have tied the two eldest children with a rope before knifing them to death.
Marazani later attempted suicide by downing poison before handing herself over to the police.
The incident followed a domestic dispute between Marazani and her husband Lameck Brande (43).
A neighbour, Mr Daniel Machoni, said he and others rushed to the house after they saw smoke billowing from the roof.
“When I got to the house, I saw my friend’s wife locking the gate and I asked her what was going on to which she simply said all was in order,” said Machoni.
“After she locked the gate, she walked a few metres and started to sprint, that is when I got suspicious.
“Together with other neighbours, we jumped over the fence.
“By that time, the husband had arrived and we managed to break the burglar bars since all doors were locked.
“The husband went in through the window and tried to pull out the children, that is when he discovered that they were all dead with their throats slit.”
Marazani is in custody awaiting trial.
Rushwaya’s foiled gold heist
Former ZIFA chief executive and Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president, Henrietta Rushwaya (53), was arrested at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport after she allegedly attempted to smuggle six kilogrammes of gold on a flight to Dubai.
Following an anonymous tip-off, police detectives accosted Rushwaya as she was going through check-in and immigration procedures after alerting Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) scanner operators to thoroughly examine her hand luggage.
The bag, according to police, was then physically searched, with the detectives discovering nearly 6kg of processed gold inside.
She failed to produce supporting documents and was arrested.
Man stews nephew’s head
Clever Chitiga (22) from Matova Village near Gokomere Mission under Chief Zimuto was found by alert neighbours stewing his eight-year-old nephew’s head in a pot.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said Chitiga allegedly killed the juvenile before severing his head and stashed the torso in a nearby shallow pool.
“He was found cooking the boy’s head in a kitchen hut, while the remaining parts of the body were recovered in a shallow pool, wrapped in a mosquito net,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
According to sources, the incident occurred when the boy, who was in Grade Two at Matova Primary School, sought shelter from the heavy rains at his uncle’s home on Friday.
The suspect is alleged to have killed the boy before cutting off his head.
A search for the boy the following morning led to the recovery of his head after a relative forced his way into the suspect’s kitchen where he had locked himself from inside.
Chivhu police post
In another gruesome murder incident in Chivhu, two gunmen shot and killed a soldier on duty while injuring another at local police post.
The now-deceased soldier, Lorance Mupanganyama, and colleague Peter Zvirevo were part of a patrol team of security officers enforcing the Covid-19 lockdown.
The two gunmen — Elliot Chihambakwe (46) and Elphas Jani (20), both of Gutu — are said to have approached the police base before briefly engaging in a conversation with Mupanganyama.
The gunmen later opened fire on the two soldiers.
Mupanganyama died instantly.
Zvirevo sustained three gunshot wounds on the back, two others on his left hand and another one in the abdomen.
The gunmen made off with the soldiers’ service riffles, before they were gunned down a day later after a brief confrontation with soldiers deployed to track them down.
The grand heist
A driver and security guard working for local security company delivering cash to a money transfer agency in Gokwe made off with US$306 000 in cash during a cash-in-transit operation in August.
Desbro Kadzurunga (23) and Leon Kahoka (35) – both from Gokwe town — dumped the specialised delivery van belonging to their employer, Safeguard Security, their uniforms and a firearm near Gokwe Hotel before vanishing.
Gokwe Safeguard office received US$300 000 and R250 000 from the Kwekwe office to be delivered to various Mukuru branches in Gokwe.
Kadzurunga and Kahoka were given an additional US$13 000 and R350 000 before being sent out for the delivery along with a third colleague who has not been identified by police.
The two sent their colleague into N Richards Gokwe Mukuru branch to deposit some of the cash before making good of their escape in his absence.
“They were even under-declaring what they were supposed to deliver at N Richards Mukuru and while their colleague was still signing receipts, they pretended to be answering calls on their cellphones. They then went out and drove away with cash amounting to US$306 000 and over R100 000,” said the police.
They left behind R250 000.