Two habitual armed robbers from Harare who terrorised Mutare residents using the same modus operandi have been sentenced to a total of 56 years each in prison.
Artwell Machekera and Phinias Bhasera (both 29) from Stoneridge Park in Waterfalls, Harare went on an armed robbery spree in Mutare this year where they would waylay motorists at night and rob them of their vehicles and valuables at gunpoint.
The two were convicted of six counts of armed robbery by Mutare regional magistrate, Ms Phethukile Msipa and were sentenced to 56 years each after a full trial.
Bhasera, who pleaded not guilty to all the counts had seven years of his 56 years suspended while Machekera had four years suspended after admitting to some of the counts.
Ms Msipa said the evidence against them was overwhelming before convicting the two.
Prosecutor Ms Nomathemba Sayi told the court that the two were in the habit of terrorising motorists either by pretending to be passengers to get a lift before suddenly drawing out a firearm and a knife to rob motorists of their vehicles and valuables.
In other instances, they would wait at traffic lights and wait for motorists to slow down or stop before pouncing on them.
In the first count, Ms Sayi told the court that on February 28, the complainant, Mr Lawson Masiyazi was driving his Honda Fit vehicle along Mutare-Chimanimani road.
Upon arriving at an intersection, complainant stopped to heed traffic lights before Bhasera pulled out a pistol and instructed him to stop.
“The two accused persons jumped into the complainant’s motor vehicle. They ordered him to drive along the same road at gun point. Upon reaching Fern Valley turn off, the accused persons ordered complainant to pull off the road and he complied,” said Ms Sayi.
Complainant was forcibly removed from his vehicle and had his vehicle taken together with his valuables and he reported the offence.
His driver’s licence disc, clothes and a lap top worth about US$8 000 were recovered.
On another count Ms Sayi said on March 3, at around 8.30pm, the complainant Mrs Faith Mbiba was with her husband driving a Toyota Sienta vehicle from Mutare Rural Police Camp heading towards Dangamvura when the husband stopped at the Swimming Pool bus stop to pick passengers.
The accused persons pretended to be passengers going to Villa Spot in Dangamvura. Bhasera pulled a pistol and ordered the driver not to turn into Dangamvura but proceed along Mutare-Chimanimani Road.
After driving for about 200 metres, one of the accused ordered complainant to pull off the road and he took over the driver’s seat and headed for Fern Valley turn off where they eventually ordered the complainants to surrender all their money before ejecting them.
Their national identity cards and passports were recovered upon the pair’s arrest.
Ms Sayi said three other counts were committed using the same modus operandi.
In other counts, the accused robbed shop owners around Mutare before stealing money and valuables.