Brazen robbery shakes Lomagundi College as masked armed gang strikes


Lomagundi College in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West Province was the scene of a brazen robbery on Tuesday night as 10 armed robbers held staff members hostage before breaking into offices where they stole pistols from the security team, an undisclosed amount of cash, laptops and cellphones.

The robbers loaded the loot into a Mazda Tribute vehicle belonging to the school deputy head, Mr Tendai Masombo, before speeding off.

Although no school funds were taken, an undisclosed amount of money belonging to staff members was taken, and the police are now investigating the incident.

In a notice to parents yesterday, school board chairman Mr Ntando Sibanda said that all children and staff members were safe following the robbery, despite the loss of personal money from staff members’ offices.

“At about 2030hrs last night (9 January 2024) our main gate security team was ambushed by a group of 10 masked armed robbers who disarmed them of their weapons and held them hostage by the gate guard room,” reads part of the notice.

“They then ambushed Mr Masombo our deputy head as he returned back to campus after having driven to town earlier that evening.

“They forced Mr Masombo and five security guards to the administration block, where they were tied up and made to sleep on the floor after having broken the alarm system and all the offices doors,” said the notice.

“The robbers then broke into all the administration offices, broke all the fixed and movables safes. While at this point in time we can advise that no school funds from fees were taken as these are kept off site, we strongly suspect that an undisclosed amount of money was taken which comprised staff members personal monies (could be monies for clubs, committees etc) kept in their respective offices.

“A number of laptops and other assets of value were taken and we are still to establish these once staff members have been interviewed”, the notice said. The robbers then got away using Mr Masombo’s vehicle, took guns from the security team and took with them Mr Masombo’s phone and a few other phones belonging to the security team.”

The board chair said the administration block had been sealed off temporarily to allow the police to carry out investigations.

“Our school team then managed to untie themselves and a report was then made thereafter. CID Chinhoyi attended to the scene at approximately 2am this morning and investigations are currently in progress.

“We will be communicating contact details for parents to use in the meantime for any urgent communication with the school as our school lines will probably go unanswered,” said the notice.

Mr Sibanda assured parents that the school programme would proceed as normal for all children.

“Please can we help each other remain calm during this difficult time. We will be making all possible efforts to beef up our security at the school as much as possible. As for now, we will allow the authorities to lead us in the investigation processes. We have tried to give as much information as possible for now based on what we have so far.”

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the incident.

“Police in Chinhoyi are investigating a case of robbery which occurred at Lomagundi College on January 9, 2024 at around 8;30pm. Ten unknown suspects pounced at the college and attacked security guards and the deputy head.

“The suspects broke into the finance office where they blew an empty cash safe before breaking into the principal’s office. Subsequently, the suspects stole a pistol, laptops, cellphones and a Mazda Tribute vehicle which they used as a get-away car. Anyone with information to report at any nearest police station,” he said.

Asst Comm Nyathi also implored schools to avoid keeping large amounts of cash on their premises.

“As the schools open, parents and guardians are in the process of paying school fees, levies and other related school costs, for their children.

“School authorities are therefore urged to deposit all monies at financial institutions to curb armed robbery cases. The issue of collecting cash by school authorities at schools should be reconsidered in view of the recent armed robbery cases.”

Police said a manhunt has since been launched for the robbers. In recent months, the country has been hit by a spate of robberies, some armed, in which millions in cash and other valuables have been stolen.

Police in Bulawayo are also investigating a case of unlawful entry and theft which occurred at a school at the intersection of George Silundika Street and Third Avenue this week.

The yet unknown suspects broke into the school offices and stole US$17 280 cash which was in a cash box.

Last Friday, a lone armed robber raided a private college in Masvingo while purporting to be looking for a Form One place before vanishing with over US$22 800.

The robber attacked a victim before stealing the money, two cellphones and two laptops.

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