Swaziland
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BOGUS POLICE OFFICERS INVADE BANK

MBABANE – ‘Maphoyisa, vula!’

Loosely translated, “This is the police, open up.” These words were all that was needed for four robbers to enter a home in Ezulwini. This is said to have happened at around 8pm on Thursday evening. The robbers allegedly forced their way into the home of a bank manager and violently attacked her and other family members. The robbers are said to have been stalking the banker for some days and allegedly loitered around her home, presumably studying the family’s daily movements.  Information gathered from credible sources was that the thugs loitered around the nearby streets.

According to a police report seen by this publication, the men entered the premises by jumping over the high wall fence. After jumping over the wall, it is alleged the four men headed for the main door, where they knocked and said they were police officers. Thinking they were genuine police officers, the door was opened for them but they quickly pushed their way in. It could not be ascertained at the time of compiling this report, where the gate security guard was.

Violent

One of the occupants in the house is said to have tried to close the door after realising that they were not police officers but this is said to have turned violent. One of the robbers allegedly opened fire towards the door and injured the person who was trying to close the door, on the hand. The thieves made the daring robbery despite that there are two police bases in the area. Also, Ezulwini has a neighbourhood watch to ensure that people loitering at  night are kept away. However, last Thursday the thieves managed to enter the home, robbed and tortured the occupants before walking away with cash and goods amounting to about E177 300.

After entering the house forcefully, the armed men warned the family against calling the police. It is alleged they wore balaclavas while entering the house but as the night continued two of them allegedly took them off.
According to *Juno, who is a resident, the thieves are said to have obtained information about the family before the attack. He also revealed that when the men were in the house, they rounded up the occupants before robbing them. He said initially, the men asked for money, but were not pleased with the amount of cash in the house.

After  they  realised that no money was forthcoming, they then demanded bank cards with pin numbers. It is alleged that two  of the men then demanded the keys to a vehicle that was parked within the  homestead and used it to drive to an ATM so that they could withdraw more money. They allegedly took the bank manger along with them  to the ATM. There, they withdrew E1 800 and returned to the house.

Further, Juno said the men appeared to speak in a Zulu accent but said he believed this was an act. The police arrived to find that the men had already fled. However, it could not be established how long the police officer spent at the crime scene while collecting information from the victims.

Confirmed

Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed the incident and said no arrest had been made yet. Note worthy, a neighbourhood patrol team is said to have interrogated a man who was driving a Honda Fit and claimed to be a police officer visiting his girlfriend in the area. It was alleged that the vehicle was detained but he was later handed over to the police.

Meanwhile, concerns were also raised over overgrown grass and bushes  in the neighbourhood near where the robbery took place. This concern is also said to have been raised by some police officers, who wondered why there was so much overgrowth around the area. It was gathered that after they had arrived some officers searched the grass assuming that the alleged robbers may have been hiding there but they had already vanished by the time the police officers arrived.

Our sister  publication recently reported on  a similar incidence in which thugs had robbed homeowners. Concerns have now been raised by some members of the public that the alleged thugs may be operating as a syndicate and that they use a similar modus operandi of pretending to be police officers or members of the security forces on patrol but then turn out to be thieves.

In previous stories it was reported that a similar incident happened around Pine Valley and that the alleged robbers operated in a similar manner of ambushing a family  at their home during evening hours. They allegedly forced the man, who they had targeted, to go to the bank with and withdraw some money from his account. It was gathered that the robbers target expensive electronic gadgets as well as cash.

Targeted

Almost similar to the Ezulwini robbery, the thugs also targeted an area near overgrown  grass. Some members of the public who spoke on condition of anonymity stated that it appeared the robbers were operating as a gang within the Mbabane and surrounding areas. They said it appeared they were now targeting upper market urban  areas, after stalking their victims. “These people seem to know where you work and they follow you and know that you are now at home,” said a resident of Ezulwini who asked to remain anonymous for her safety. The resident said Ezulwini had two nearby police stations, namely Lobamba and Satellite but despite this, violent robberies were still taking place.