MORE than 10 armed men raided three houses in Emakhandeni suburb at around 2AM yesterday, forcibly gaining entry into homes to rob residents after destroying doors and windows with axes in terrifying incidents that left some people injured.
The men whose exact number is unknown were armed with machetes, catapults and axes and targeted residents who sell some wares and chickens in forex. They went away with at least US$600, R350, mobile phones and other valuables. Those who attempted to come to their neighbours were also attacked. The men wore masks and jackets with hoodies to disguise their identities.
In one of the houses they used axes to remove window frames and doors which lead to three rooms where their targets stay. The three who are tenants said the men had torches.
Mr Prince Hlongwane said he was saved by moving into a fellow tenant’s room after his door was brought down by the mob.
He said he could spot a group of more men standing around the house as some were throwing stones at neighbours who had been awakened.
“They simply demanded that we give them money and threatened to chop us into pieces if we resisted. We tried fighting them and said we had no money and one of them raised his machete and almost struck my friend on her head as he missed and injured her arm,” he said.
Mr Dube said the burglars also broke windows at surrounding homes.
“Some of our neighbours tried rescuing us but the team which was outside would throw stones into any window where they saw that the light had been switched on. We still do not know how they knew we had money and unfortunately we did not recognise any of the persons,” he said.
He said after the gang had left their home, they stayed for about 30 minutes just to be sure they were really gone as the breaking of doors and windows had traumatised them.
“Police came at around 4AM and later on we learnt that we were not the only ones that had been attacked. Emakhandeni has become a dangerous suburb and we still do not understand how so many men could go around terrifying people in the name of collecting money which we are all struggling to make,” he said.
Mr Dube’s friend who was struck with a machete and preferred anonymity said she escaped death by a whisker as the men were determined to kill judging from the manner they destroyed their doors and windows.
“At one point they had all the three of us in one room and they threatened to kill me if Dube did not say where the money was. When he said he didn’t have money one of them raised his machete aiming for my head but eventually hit my arm which left me with a deep scar.”
She said the men also threatened to kill all of them after they robbed them of US$131.
“They openly told us that the money was short and demanded more but they gave up when they ransacked the three rooms and found nothing. We have never seen such vigour and violence aimed at three people and we hope police will find them,” she said.
A few metres away from Mr Dube’s home, Ms Monica Simutwe and her family lost US$470 and R350 to the same crew.
She said the family was attacked at around 2AM.
“We just heard a huge bang and that was the front door coming down after being smashed. We screamed for help and I realised they had put a machete on my young sister who was sleeping in the kitchen. They started asking her where the money was and that’s when they came into my bedroom and threatened to kill us if we did not produce the money,” she said.
Ms Simutwe said the men also got away with two phones.
“Two of our neighbours tried helping but the men used catapults on them and they quickly closed their doors and remained inside until the mob went. We are just grateful we are alive and that none of us were harmed but we are terrified. This attack will haunt us for some time,” she said.
Chronicle could not speak to the third family.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube could also not immediately comment.