Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Four Nabbed Over Sh20 Million ATM Theft

Mbeya — FOUR people, including a Form Four student, have been arrested by Police in Rungwe District allegedly for stealing more than 20m/- using fake ATM cards at the Tukuyu Branch of the National Microfinance Bank (NMB).

The incident has occurred only a couple of day since a similar theft occurred in Mwanza Region where several suspects were arrested for stealing from an NMB branch using fake ATM cards. It is estimated that a total 700m/- have been stolen in various incidents. Rungwe District Commissioner Crispin Meela named the suspects as Joseph Peter (20) who finished Form Four last year in Bunda District, Mara Region.

The others are Juma Kabelo (28) and Miraji Ketaha (34) who are residents of Msasani in Tukuyu and Jumanne Magere (28), a resident of Vwawa in Mbozi District. Narrating the incident, Mr Meela said yesterday that he received a call from a good Samaritan informing him that there were four people who were drawing money frequently at the NMB and using many ATM cards.

"Furthermore, he told me that even the faces of those people are not familiar with people of Tukuyu, so I decided to call the Officer Commanding District (OCD)," he said.The DC said that when the suspects were arrested, police found them with 150 fake ATM cards and cash amounting to 20,543,200/- which they had already withdrawn from different bank accounts.

Mr Meela said that had the good Samaritan not informed police on the incident, the suspects could have withdrawn more money from the ATMs and caused huge losses to banks. He urged members of the community to report to police if they are suspicious of any wrongdoing in their areas.Mbeya Regional Police Commander (RPC) Diwani Athumani confirmed the incident but declined to give further details.

"I've told other reporters that I'll give you all the details of the incident tomorrow (today)", he stressed.Waves of thefts through ATMs have recently hit most banks, threatening security of the money deposited by customers. Despite using high technology, foreigners are also linked to the syndicate of ATM thieves.

Meanwhile, Olympia Martin reports from Arusha that a mysterious fire broke out at Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School at night on Monday, (February 25), reducing one of the girls' hostel buildings to ashes.Apart from a few injuries from panicking students, there have been no serious casualties, according to the Regional Police Commander, Mr Liberatus Sabas, even though various valuable properties have been destroyed at the institution which is owned and run by the Arusha Catholic Archdiocese.

"The fire erupted at between 8.00pm and 9.00 pm and lasted for two hours. Fortunately all students were in classrooms studying. Nobody was in the building when the girls' hostel caught fire," said the Police Commander.Located in Terrat Ward, 12 kilometres south of Arusha City, it took time before both the fire brigade and the police reached the blazing Edmund-Rice Sinon Secondary School in pitch darkness. The area was experiencing a power blackout at the time.

The hostel sheltered 50 students who have suffered major losses because all their property has been gutted by the fire whose source remains a mystery.

One of the school officials, who preferred anonymity, said if there was electricity at least people would have thought the fire was caused by faults at the mains. But there was no power at the school throughout the day.

"The school power generator was on but it supplied electricity only to the classrooms where the students were studying. The rest of the compound was in pitch darkness," said the official.He added that it is still not known what or who caused the fire, something which also baffles the police here.

Some students who panicked or suffered minor injuries during the scramble to flee from classrooms, were rushed to the regional Mount Meru Hospital but got discharged a few hours later.

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