After more than an hour of fending off police gun fire and unsuccessfully trying to commit suicide four times, suspected armed robber Godfrey Josi (41) and his wife Juliet Gavaza (36) succumbed to the heat and were arrested at their Damofalls home last weekend.
In classic Bonnie and Clyde style, the couple committed a spate of robberies since 2017. A crack-team comprising over 30 law enforcement agents led by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had to break into the house and shoot Josi in the leg to subdue him.
With his house surrounded by the gun-totting crack-team, Josi unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide four times as the pistol he wanted to use to shoot himself in the head failed to discharge, a relative who was in the house when the shooting occurred, told The Sunday Mail.
Josi along with his wife and five other gang members have since appeared in court charged with more than
25 counts of armed robbery, kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms.
The gang allegedly amassed over US$300 000 from their four-year reign of terror with Josi and Gavaza understood to have acquired a number ofproperties worth about US$75 000 using their share of the proceeds.
The couple apparently purchased a four-roomed house in Budiriro 4 Extension in Harare for US$20 000, a seven-roomed house in Zengeza 5 Chitungwiza valued at US$36 000, residential stand in Murehwa for US$2 600 and a 2,5-hectare plot at Kent Farm in Mhondoro.
They reportedly bought an Isuzu KB300 truck, a Mercedes Benz, two Honda CRVs and 10 cattle in Headlands.
Josi’s uncle who says he only discovered his nephew’s criminal side last week, witnessed it all happen, as he was in the house when police swooped on the notorious suspect.
He said Josi and Gavaza first met in Headlands’ Chiendambuya area before moving to Murehwa after getting married.
“Back then they were struggling even to buy food and I was giving them handouts time and again,” he said.
“They later moved to Glen Norah in Harare where I was also staying at that time and I believe that is when they met people who recruited them into crime.”
After a rapid change in fortunes for Josi and Gavaza, the uncle said he got suspicious about their source of wealth, but he had no evidence to confront his nephew.
“One day I asked about his nature of business and he said he was now a car-dealer who owns many car sales,” he said.
“Their life was changing rapidly and my request to visit some of the car sales was brushed aside.”
On the night of the raid, Josi’s uncle says he had just come from his rural home in Chiendambuya where he is now based.
He said when he arrived there was nothing suspicious as the couple went about their errands normally.
“When I arrived Josi was not at home and his wife was just about to leave for Mazowe for a church service,” said the uncle.
“When the couple returned we enjoyed a bottle of whisky together with two other relatives and retired to bed.
“At around midnight we heard gunshots around the house and when I went to take a look I realised that the house was surround by the police.”
The police ordered Josi to surrender and it is understood he then told his uncle that all was not well.
“I saw him coming out from his room holding a pistol saying ‘zvadhakwa’ (it is falling apart).
“He pointed a pistol to his head and tried to shoot himself. He tried to shoot himself at least four times, but the gun failed to fire. I don’t know if it was loaded or if he was failing to operate it.”
After realising that the police had broken into the house, Josi later dropped the gun and surrendered.
The uncle said he strongly suspected that Josi used black magic in his criminal operations, as some mysterious bits and pieces were discovered in his bedroom.
“The police later went away with Josi that night. Two police officers came back the following day with Josi and his accomplices. They called Juliet to come and produce the materials used by her husband and ordered him to burn them. The materials were just the kind that is associated with black magic. Juliet was also arrested and taken into police custody.”
One of Josi’s neighbours Ms Rutendo Kafesu said Josi and Gavaza kept to themselves and rarely entertained neighbours.
“We saw them going out and coming in, but we just thought they were living their own life,” she said.
“They were staying as a family, but it was their young daughter who we knew more as she used to play with our children. They were driving different kinds of vehicles and it was evident that they were wealthy.”
Ms Kafesu said on the night that Josi was arrested, the community thought there was a robbery in progress due to the gunshots.
“We later learnt from a community Whatsapp Group that the police had come to arrest Josi for robbery.”
Another neighbour Georgina Mliolo said she had always suspected Josi and Gavaza’s wealthy lifestyle was sponsored by crime.
“I suspected that they were dealing in drugs or something illegal because they drove new and expensive cars,” she said.
“On the night of the raid the scuffle lasted almost two hours with repeated gunshots.”
A vendor who operated near Josi’s house Ms Rosemary Nhavira said she had assisted the couple to get the rented house that they lived in.
“I was the one who accompanied them to the house, which they were now staying in. When their landlord agreed for them to move in, they paid U$600 cash for the full house, but strangely, they did not occupy it for two months. The landlord later came to me and said the couple was paying the rent without a problem, but was concerned that they seemed to lack any track record. I didn’t really know them even though I assisted them.”
Josi revealed to the police that his accomplices were Zvidozvashe Zuda, Peter Mushipe and Valentine Mutasa (all now in custody), Decide Rice of Devon Farm in Kadoma (who is still on the run) and the now deceased Benjamin Craig Musasa and Richard Mutanga.
Robbery cases are on the rise and President Mnangagwa recently raised concern over the safety of the public, warning robbers and other criminals that their days were numbered.