Chaos as armed robbers pounce on sangoma’s shrine, ‘arrest’ him and get away with US$2,100

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A young traditional healer in Harare fell victim to a brazen robbery this week after armed assailants posing as police officers forced him to withdraw cash from his bank account.

Shelton Maliamba, 22, operates a small sangoma practice out of his home in Whitehouse. On Friday morning, three men barged into his shrine claiming they needed healing for an urgent matter. But their intentions were far from spiritual: once alone with Maliamba, one of the robbers produced a gun and declared they were “arresting” him for lacking proper registration with the traditional healers’ association (Zinatha).

The impostors flashed fake police IDs and ordered everyone else away from the shrine. Terrified, Maliamba complied as the men bundled him into a waiting vehicle at gunpoint. They confiscated his phone and demanded his bank details.

What followed was a harrowing ordeal as the robbers compelled Maliamba to withdraw cash for them under duress. Police later confirmed the trio drove him first to Southerton ATM, where he was forced to take out US$1,600 from his account at gunpoint.

They also collected an alleged outstanding US$500 debt from him before dumping the young sangoma back at Whitehouse, shaken but unharmed.

“Police are investigating an armed robbery case involving a self-styled sangoma from Whitehouse.

“On January 5 at around 9am, the complainant was at his shrine when one of the three accused persons budged into his shrine.

“The accused person demanded to be healed first stating that he was going on an urgent matter somewhere.

“The accused also demanded for privacy and people who were in the shrine were told to go outside and they complied.

“When the accused person was left alone with the complainant, he pointed an unidentified pistol at him and told him that he was under arrest for operating without a ZINATHA licence.

“He subsequently produced an identity card stating that he was a policeman and the other two accused persons also entered the shrine and produced identity cards indicating that the complainant was under arrest.

“The complainant was then ordered to get into the vehicle at gunpoint.

“The accused persons took complainant’s cellphone and requested bank account balance and took his cellphone,” said Ass-Insp Mapisa.

They drove to Southerton with him where they withdrew US$1 600,” police said.

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