Police in Bulawayo have launched an investigation after two armed robbers raided an Alpha Omega Dairy warehouse and got away with $1 040 in cash and mobile phones. Alpha Omega, which sells a range of dairy products is owned by the First Family. The company’s general manager Mr Stanley Nhari confirmed the robbery, but referred questions to the police. Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo had not responded late last night.
The raid shortly after 5.30pm on Wednesday left at least one employee being treated for shock. The robbers forced a security guard and an administrative clerk to pray as they escaped, according to sources close to the investigations.
Workers were preparing to close shop when two men arrived at the company’s distribution centre in the Thorngrove industrial area and asked to buy milk, yoghurt and dairy fruit juices.
Once inside, the robbers produced a pistol and demanded money from the clerk, only identified as Angeline. “They ordered her to surrender all the cash at the premises. One of the robbers then took a cash box containing about US$660. He also searched her bag and took US$380 cash and her cellphones,” said the source.“The robbers kept demanding more money and Angeline pleaded with them to believe her that it had all been sent to the bank. She begged them to spare her life. She really believed they were going to kill her. She was later taken to hospital and treated for shock.
The gunmen demanded to know who else was at the factory and after being told that all the other employees had knocked off except the security guard, one of the robbers went to the gate and grabbed the guard, identified only as Simbaza. The gunmen, said the source, told their captives to close their eyes and start praying — apparently to keep them distracted while they escaped.
“They were instructed to raise their voices in prayer to show that they were telling the truth that there was no more money. The robbers sneaked out and the pair only discovered they were gone after a long period,” the source said. Police are said to be pursuing “very good leads”.
Bulawayo has recorded a spate of robberies in the past few months, with schools, supermarkets, churches and businesses targeted. The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) said recently that armed robbery and plain robbery cases were on the increase in the country. In the first six months of this year, 355 armed robbery and 3 772 robbery cases were recorded countrywide up from 265 armed robbery and 3 474 robbery cases reported within the same period last year. Last week thieves broke into Bon Marche supermarket in Bulawayo’s Parklands suburb and got away with more than US$15 000.