AT first glance 38-year-old Limukani Khupe strikes you as an earnest and hardworking entrepreneur, but unbeknown to many, he also allegedly assumes the persona of an unforgiving and violent criminal.
Khupe, a “businessman” who owns a thriving liquor business and boutique in Sun Yet Sen in Maphisa, Matabeleland South Province, was arrested by police for allegedly leading a gang of seven other violent criminals.
The gang has been on the police most wanted list in Bulawayo for a string of break ins and armed robbery cases, which Khupe reportedly masterminded.
Khupe hails from Ezimnyama Village in Plumtree, Matabeleland South Province, where he has a homestead.
He is also building a house in Bulawayo’s Rangemore suburb.
Khupe, according to police, was found in possession of a revolver, which is licensed under his name.
“He owns a revolver, which we managed to retrieve. We checked on it and found out it was licensed under his name. The licence expires in December. Khupe apparently was granted the licence, as he is a businessman and, in his application, indicated that he needed it for protection from criminals, as he constantly had large amounts of money in his possession,” said Bulawayo Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube.
He said Khupe clearly applied for the firearm to carry out his sinister motives, which left many homeowners in Bulawayo’s high-density suburbs petrified when he and his gang struck.
The other gangsters were identified as Brendon Moyo (25) from Lobengula West, Benefit Vhudzi (37) from Mbundane, Witness Macebo (27) from Lobengula West, Isheunesu Nhliziyo (36) also known as Scanda from Cowdray Park, Nyapo Ndlovu (26), Limukani Dube (32), and Lungisani Mpofu (24) from Cowdray Park.
Inspector Ncube said events that led to their capture were preceded by a series of violent break ins and robberies that culminated in active participation by members of the public and police.
“On the 28th of April 2023 at around 2230 hours, a group of eight unknown male accused persons pretending to be police knocked on the front sitting room door of a house in New Luveve demanding the occupants to open.
“They claimed to have been looking for a man called Brighton. The complainants then advised the accused persons that there was no one by that name. The accused persons then went on and forced open the kitchen door to gain entry into the house armed with knives, machetes and knobkerries,” said Insp Ncube.
He said upon entry, the gang assaulted the complainants with a machete, demanding money and other valuables.
“The accused persons then rounded up all the six occupants and hauled them up in the sitting room holding them at gunpoint. They took one of the complainants to the bedroom whilst holding a knife to her throat. While in the bedroom, the accused took cash US$177 and R50 from a purse,” said Insp Ncube.
He said the other robbers went on to ransack the house seeking valuables and stole a Samsung32-inch television, Open View decoder, Itel A33 phone, Samsung A12 cell phone and Huawei Y9 cell phone.
“After raiding the family the gang sped off in two getaway cars they had parked outside the house. Upon interviews it was established that the robbers had targeted to rob a house which belonged to an illegal forex dealer, who also deals in cell phones. They however missed the target and robbed the wrong house,” said Insp Ncube.
He said the gang, on May 6 went on to rob a house in Rangemore. “On the 6th of May 2023 at around 0200 hours the same accused persons entered a complainant’s premises at Rangemore suburb through an unlocked gate and proceeded to the main house where they broke the windows to gain entry into the house. While inside the house, the accused persons who were armed with two unidentified pistols, a machete, a sjambok and knives searched each room, threatening and assaulting the complainants who were sleeping in different rooms demanding cash and valuables,” said Insp Ncube.
He said the victims of Khupe and his ferocious gang surrendered their cellphones, cash and even went on to steal a pellet gun, which they added to their arsenal of weaponry to commit crimes.
“The complainants surrendered an iphone 6, a black Itel, an Itel p36, Itel p37 pro cellphone and a Spark 8C cellphone. They also stole a pellet gun from an unlocked gun cabinet and cash amounting to R2000, US$220 and $47 000,” said Inspector Ncube, adding that the gang pepper sprayed the victims before they made their getaway.
He said Khupe and his gang’s luck ran out on May 14, after detectives received a tip off exposing directions to their hideout in Lobengula West suburb.