After a two-month investigation, Botswana police have arrested six men for allegedly robbing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) of property worth R625 000.
According to the Botswana Police Service (BPS) public relations officer Dipheko Motube, the men – four Batswana and two Zimbabweans – have appeared in court.
“Four Batswana nationals and two Zimbabwean male citizens appeared before Village Magistrate’s Court in Gaborone today (Monday),” Motube said in a statement.
Mpho Rasetena, 28, Lesego Masilo, 33, Maitapiso Thuso Kgakgamatso, 34, and Otsile Semandi, 40, are from Botswana. The two Zimbabweans are Innocent Bushiri Shaggy, 31, and Tongai Tsikirayi, 38.
According to the BPS, the six were arrested in Gaborone on Friday in connection with a robbery in which 18 laptops, six cellphones and a camera were stolen in January.
The police said investigations were still under way.
“At the time of arrest, the suspects were found in possession of a firearm suspected to have been used in the commission of the offense, and foreign currencies,” the Botswana police said.
The men will appear in court again on 28 March. It was not made clear in court whether the stolen property had been located.
The arrests came a fortnight after Botswana police killed nine people, including a South African man, in a shootout following a cash-in-transit robbery in the capital Gaborone.
The men were believed to have been part of an armed gang of 11 who were in pursuit of a cash-in-transit vehicle transporting the pula equivalent of almost R1.2 million.
In response to a spate of robberies in southern Africa, independent Zimbabwean MP Temba Mliswa called on the SADC organ on security, chaired by President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, to deal with armed robberies, which have become a menace in the region.
Mliswa said: “We cannot continue to keep quiet about the crime rate in South Africa, where Zimbabweans are being implicated. The rate has gone up and it doesn’t do us any good with those governments. Regionally, the crime rate involving armed robbers has also increased and now requires a holistic approach.”
“The SADC organ on security should deal with these armed robbers. Expert teams should be organised to deal with these robbers across borders,” he added.
Last month, in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, the South African Police Service pounced on a gang believed to have been involved in a spate of cash-in-transit heists. Eight men were shot dead and 11 arrested.