FIVE armed robbers yesterday pounced on CBZ Bank’s Fife Street branch in Bulawayo and got away with US$70 000 amid concerns over an increase in armed robberies countrywide.
The robbery, which occurred around midday, comes a month after armed robbers raided a Mukuru branch in the city centre and got away with more than US$100 000.
The branch is situated along 10th Avenue between Fife Street and George Silundika Street.
The branch mostly services clients who will be receiving money from international financial agents.
When a Chronicle news crew visited the scene yesterday at around 2PM, there was a heavy police presence outside the bank with detectives carrying out investigations.
The bank was also no longer allowing clients inside the banking hall and people were withdrawing cash using the automated teller machine (ATM).
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the armed robbery, saying investigations were on course.
“Yes, we are conducting investigations after five armed robbers raided a local financial institution and got away with US$70 000. The five suspects masqueraded as genuine customers and queued just like everyone else in the banking hall,” he said.
“When they were about to be served, they then pounced on the bank manager and got away with the money.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said on their way out the suspects jammed the exit door before escaping.
“No arrests have been made so far and we are appealing to members of the public who might have information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects to report to any nearest police station,” said the police spokesperson.
City residents who spoke to the news crew said the increase in armed robberies is becoming an issue of concern.
Mr Blessing Nyani, a vendor operating at corner 10th Avenue and Fife Street, said he was shocked upon discovering that the bank had been robbed.
“To tell you the truth we didn’t know what had transpired. We only got to learn about the robbery when we saw armed police officers at the scene and that’s when we were told that the bank had been robbed,” he said.
“This is something that is very worrying to us as residents. Just recently, Mukuru was raided and surely, we are no longer safe considering the rate at which these robberies are happening.”
Another resident, who declined to be named, said he initially wanted to enter the banking hall before he was told that it was now a crime scene.
“I was surprised because there was nothing that pointed to the fact that a robbery had happened. From what I have gathered this thing happened so quickly and most people did not see or suspect anything,” he said.
“I would like to commend the bank for handling this issue in a very professional way. We understand that this was a traumatic experience, but they kept serving us through the ATM.”
The incident follows last month’s raid of another financial institution where four gun-wielding robbers got away with a total of US$100 000 and R500 000 after intercepting a cash-in-transit Safeguard vehicle outside a money transfer agent in the city centre.
Armed robbers last month raided Mukuru branch along 13th Avenue, between Lobengula and Herbert Chitepo Street.
Following an increase in armed robbery cases, President Mnangagwa last month issued an amnesty to all members of the public who are in possession of unregistered firearms and ammunition to surrender them to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
The amnesty which started on August 8 will run until the end of this month.
By Monday, 412 guns had been surrendered to the police.