MORE than 20 armed robbers raided the construction site of businessman Dr Philip Chiyangwa’s multi-million dollar property development of Kirkman Mall in Westlea, Harare, early yesterday morning and got away with building materials worth over US$300 000, in what is believed to be an inside job.
The gang attacked and injured about eight of Dr Chiyangwa’s employees and security guards before loading the roofing sheets, sewer and water pipes, among other materials at the site, into a lorry.
The development is on 5,4 hectares and is nearing completion. It comprises a shopping mall and an industrial and commercial park with units for sale to small and medium enterprises. The first phase of the development involves premises for TM Pick n Pay, Xmart and Choppies, and is now almost finished.
Dr Chiyangwa has since offered a reward for anyone with information that might lead to the arrest of the culprits involved, who he said were trying to derail development on one of his projects.
“The culprits must be arrested and face the music because what they did was inhumane. Imagine attacking my security guards and employees before tying both their hands with wires.
“As a result most of them were seriously injured and what they did was cruel. I am one of the largest domestic investors in the country and they are derailing me,” he said.
Yesterday, police were still on the ground. Four of the armed robbers held hostage the employees for over four hours while others in the gang were loading the building materials into an unidentified truck. One of the employees, Mr Phillimon Mandizvidza, said on Saturday at around 10pm, he heard someone knocking on the door to the room where he was sleeping.
“After the knock, the gang then forcibly opened the door and gained entry into the house before they started manhandling me. They then gagged me with a cloth while a wire was used to tie my hands,” he said.
“The robbers then went on to forcibly open another door to gain entry into a room where the other employees were sleeping. They were also attacked and had both hands tied before being forced to lie facing downwards while at the same time being interrogated.
“We were bundled inside one of these rooms and I could hear some activities taking place outside. I suspect that they had a truck which they used to load their loot before they later drove off,” said Mr Mandizvidza.
Dr Chiyangwa’s son, Brian, said he received a phone call around 2am from one of the builders who resides in Stoneridge Park informing him that all was not well at the mall. He then alerted officers at Mabelreign Police Station who later rushed to the scene, but the gang had already disappeared into the night.