The 47 gang members who besieged a police base in Gokwe in an attempt to rescue their counterparts who had been arrested for robbery, were yesterday remanded in custody to tomorrow pending bail hearing.
They appeared before Gokwe Regional Magistrate Musaiona Shortgame at Nembudziya Circuit Court on charges of obstructing or defeating the course of justice.
Their counterparts, whom they were trying to rescue, were also remanded in custody to January 15 on armed robbery charges.
Prosecuting, Mr Liberty Chimwaradze told the court that on January 6 this year, around 5pm, police officers from Zenda Police Base arrested a nine-member machete-wielding gang that was travelling in a Toyota Wish in connection with a robbery case at Mums Gold Mine in Gokwe North.
The following day, 10 police details were deployed to escort the accused persons from Zenda Police Base to ZRP Nembudziya.
The police officers received information that there were two commuter omnibuses carrying armed artisanal miners from Kadoma who wanted to rescue the accused persons, who are part of a gang known as Branco.
Upon arrival, at the base around 9pm, the police officers remained alert and vigilant. Within minutes, the two commuter omnibuses approached the police base.
“The accused persons who were numbering 40 and armed with machetes, axes, shovels, picks and knobkerries besieged the police base ordering the release of their counterparts,” Mr Chimwaradze told the court.
The accused persons, the court heard, charged towards the Toyota Wish carrying their colleagues that was still parked outside and attempted to open the doors. They threatened to attack the police if they did not obey their instructions.
As they moved closer, the police officers fired warning shots in the air ordering the accused persons to surrender, but they did not comply. They then fired shots at the gang resulting in two members of the gang being seriously injured. The rest of the gang members were arrested as they tried to flee.
Meanwhile, worshippers at Zaoga FIF church in Mkoba 16, Gweru were on Tuesday night attacked by five machete-wielding men wearing masks during a prayer session.
They ordered everyone to lie on the floor, searched them and got away with cell phones, cash and other valuables. The gang also stole US$22 from the church’s safe.
Deputy national police spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Blessmore Chishaka confirmed the incident.
Chief Supt Chishaka said a police report was made at Nehanda Police Station.
“The police attended the scene and investigations are underway. No arrest has been made so far,” he said.
He said police have intensified their operations in bid to weed out the marauding machete wielding gangs.