POLICE in Bulawayo have arrested a seven-member youth gang including three juveniles who allegedly went on a two-month housebreaking spree in February and March targeting houses in the eastern suburbs.
The syndicate is linked to a spate of break-ins in affluent suburbs such as Selbourne Park, Suburbs, Hillside and North End.
Thembani Maseko, 17, Talent Tshange, 17, Bhekinkosi Ncube, 18, Prichard Mhlophe, 17, Pholani Dube, 19, Trust Ndlovu, 21, and Brighton Ncube, 20, appeared in court separately on Thursday facing 15 counts of unlawful entry, robbery and theft.
Bhekinkosi, Dube, Ndlovu and Brighton appeared before magistrate Charity Maphosa facing unlawful entry and theft charges.
Prosecuting, Shepherd Nhamburo told how on February 3, the gang broke into a Selbourne Park home and stole three Samsung Galaxy cellphones.
"On February 3, 2014 at around 2AM at 14374 Inteletsha Road in Selbourne Park, one or all of the seven accused broke unlawfully and intentionally entered the premises of Lorraine Dlamini," said Nhamburo.
Testifying, Dlamini told the magistrate that the youths trapped her and her family in their bedroom before ordering them to hand over their property.
"I was asleep with my three children and my maid when they broke in. We ran into my children’s bedroom and locked ourselves in there. They were armed with a hammer and were constantly banging the door, demanding our cellphones," she said.
Dlamini also said one of the boys had a hoe, which he used to break her bedroom window before her daughter threw the cellphones at him.
The first four members of the gang, Pholani, Talent, Thembani and Prichard initially appeared in court last week facing three counts of unlawful entry and theft. On Thursday, the quartet appeared before magistrate Takunda Muchemwa.
Prichard, Talent and Thembani were arrested after Dlamini immediately reported the matter to the police who tracked them down on the same night. The trio implicated the remaining four who were subsequently arrested. The gang is being tried by four different magistrates for the crimes.
The other magistrates are Tinashe Tashaya and Eveline Mashavakure.
The seven were remanded in custody to July 8.