Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
A BULAWAYO man allegedly teamed up with an ex-soldier to rob people that his in-laws were selling a house to, at gunpoint.
Covering their faces with face masks and caps tilted to further hide their faces, Learnmore Kwari (30) and the former soldier, Ian Sibanda (53), arrived at the sellers’ home in Lobengula West suburb on Tuesday between 5.30 and 6.30pm.
They, however, got more than they had bargained for when Mr Brendon Matshazi (24) disarmed Sibanda who was brandishing the gun at the family and demanding US$23 000.
Mr Matshazi bashed Sibanda into submission while Kwari took to his heels.
After witnessing the pounding his friend had taken, Kwari could not get away fast enough as he apparently felt getting into a getaway vehicle- a dark green BMW- would slow him down.
He streaked away on foot.
Kwari’s in laws were selling a house in the same suburb and he was part of the team that had engaged the Matshazi family in negotiations.
Sibanda is in police custody while Kwari is still at large.
Unbeknown to the duo, the money they were targeting was not at the house as it was yet to be delivered from South Africa.
Angry residents deflated the getaway vehicle’s tyres when news of the botched heist spread around the suburb.
There was a brief free-for-all as they stampeded to beat Sibanda up.
Mr Matshazi said he was angry Sibanda and Kwari burst into the house and threatened his grandmother and younger sister with a gun.
“I was so angry I did not stop to think. I jumped on him from behind and we tussled for the pistol. I overpowered him although he was bigger than me. I hit him with butt of the gun on the head until he fell to the ground. He begged for mercy while asking where I got the strength to fight an armed man,” said Mr Matshazi.
Kwari, he said, fled in terror.
Mrs Livian Matshazi, Brendon’s grandmother, said when the suspect was disarmed residents rained blows on him.
“The two men knocked on the door and forced their way into the house. I was seated on the sofa. One of them produced a gun and demanded cash. When I said I didn’t have it one of them said gogo sifuna imali asilandanga ukuzodlala (granny we want money we are not here to play). One of them said he was aware that we were preparing to buy a house so they were certain that I had the money,” she said.
“After he was disarmed, the other guy opened up. He said he was engaged by Lee to rob us, as it was easy money. We discovered Lee is related to the people we wanted to buy a house from.”
Mrs Matshazi said the attempted robbery started collapsing when one of the minor children in the house snuck out.
She said Kwari went after the girl and Sibanda followed threatening to shoot.
Mrs Matshazi said her grandson took advantage of the momentary distraction to disarm Sibanda.
When a Chronicle news crew arrived at the Lobengula West residence yesterday, Kwari’s mother-in-law Mrs Eveline Ngwenya said Kwari completed a community service sentence last week for shoplifting at one of the city’s major retail shops.
“Yesterday after the attempted robbery, he came to his home asking for R400 from my daughter.
“He said he had got a job and needed to go there immediately. Later, we were told that police were looking for him as he was involved in an attempted robbery targeting people we wanted to sell a house to,” she said.
“He is now on the run and when we call him, he claims that he has gone to Harare. He doesn’t want to state where he is exactly.”
Kwari’s mother, Ms Prettymore Chinamangaringa, who was also present apologised to the Matshazi family for her son’s actions.
Acting Bulawayo police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele said investigations on the matter were ongoing.
She discouraged members of the public from fighting armed robbers.
“Members of the public should not attack robbers. It is best to play by the book while making efforts to identify the suspects. If the gun had discharged a life could have been lost. We also urge members of the public to desist from revealing their financial positions as this attracts robbers,” she [email protected]