Police are now seeking to apply the law to seize and impound cars and other property used to commit crimes and property believed to have been bought through proceeds of crime by seven suspected serial armed robbers linked to alleged gang leader Musa Taj Abdul.
The seven were arrested over the weekend in a coordinated police operation.
One of the suspects, Musafare Mupamhanga is nursing wounds at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare after being shot on the left leg by police while attempting to flee.
Police are also looking for two other suspects who are still at large. Mupamhanga, who was wanted by police after skipping bail, was arrested along with other suspected armed robbers, Spicer Takawira, Leo Mandaza, Chamunorwa Takawira, Joseph Chinhemba, Newman Watsikwa and James Nyakutsikwa.
Six of the suspects appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court on Monday charged with robbery, unlawful entry into premises in aggravated circumstances and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Mupamhanga is under police guard in hospital and is being remanded there. The other six suspects were not asked to plead to the charges when they appeared before magistrate, Mr Dennis Mangosi, who remanded them in custody to June 14.
Mr Mangosi told them they had to apply for bail at the High Court.
Police sources yesterday said they believed the suspects acquired goods and vehicles through proceeds of criminal activities and police now in the process of tracing the ill-gotten assets for the purpose of recovery.
It is understood that in most cases, the robbers used an unregistered Toyota Wish vehicle, other unregistered Toyota Wish vehicles and a silver Toyota Mark X among other unidentified get away cars.
Police have so far impounded a blue Toyota Wish belonging to Chamunorwa Takawira which allegedly used to commit various crimes.
Once investigations have been completed on this latest case, the suspects will likely be charged for Contravening the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, which penalises one for property bought or acquired through robbery.
“If these suspects bought vehicles, goods or property using cash acquired through robbery, the items will be forfeited to the State,” said a source. “There are also legal methods whereby the victims of crimes can get orders for the return of their property, or value for missing property from those convicted of taking it.”
The State led by Mr Lancelot Mutsokoti, alleged at the remand hearings that on June 1 at around midnight, Mupamhanga teamed up with Chamunorwa Takawira, Mandaza, Spicer Takawira and Nyakutsikwa and went to Tech Centre at Montagu Shops in Harare’s Avenues Area.
They forced open the shop’s doors and stole a safe containing US$3 963 and $16 350 and stock of cellphones all valued at $1 021 229.
Police recovered property valued at $13 390.
On June 4, Mupamhanga led his gang to Rusape where they went to Prosper Mudoweti’s residence in Silverbow where they robbed him of US$500, two cellphones, laptops and other valuables. They also allegedly took keys to his Toyota Lexus and Mercedes Benz vehicles.
The following day, Mupamhanga teamed up with Chamunorwa Takawira and Leo Mandaza and went to Happiness Jenami’s shop at Kuwadzana 6 Complex in Harare.
It is said that they stole 1 500 packets of braids and weaves which they loaded into their Toyota Wish vehicle.
Acting on a tip-off, detectives arrested Mandaza who led them to a car park in Glen View 7 where Mupamhanga and Chamunorwa Takawira were arrested.
This led to the recovery of 900 packets of braids and weaves from a house in Egypt, Highfield, Harare.
Takawira and Mupamhanga were two of the country’s most wanted suspected serial armed robbers, before their arrests at the weekend following a shoot-out with police.
They were recently released from jail on bail pending appeal at the High Court, but went into hiding and it is suspected they committed more crimes while at liberty, the new crimes with which they are now being charged.