TEN armed robbers attacked 23 congregants after raiding their churches in Bindura and Marondera in two separate incidents and got away with $5 000 cash and other valuables, it has been learnt. In a statement, police national spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said police were disturbed with the robberies. "The robbers are attacking congregants during late night crusades and also targeting pastors," he said.
"One such case occurred on 18th April, 2017 at around 0200 hours in Bindura where six unknown men attacked 13 congregants with iron bars and stole $357 and various cellphones. Total value stolen is $10 680."
Chief Supt Nyathi said on the same date at around 10pm in Marondera, four armed robbers attacked 10 people who were at a church premises.
He said the four robbers forced open the pastor's door and tied up the occupants of the house.
"They blew up two safes and stole $4 160 cash," said Chief Supt Nyathi. "They went on to ransack the premises and took away various cellphones. The value of the property stolen is $4 350."
Chief Supt Nyathi warned people against keeping large amounts of money at their homes, churches and business premises, as they were likely to fall prey to armed robbers.
"Members of the public should seriously take heed of police messages to immediately bank all large sums of money being kept at business and residential premises," he said.
"This is for their own safety. Churches should also step up security measures at premises and avoid late night gatherings, which are attracting criminals."
Chief Supt Nyathi said members of the public who have information that might assist them in tracking down the armed robbers should contact any nearest police station or the National Complaints Desk on (04) 703631.
Church robberies are, however, not new.
In November 2014, three robbers broke into the Glen Norah B branch of Glad Tidings Church and stole a safe containing $30 000. They are now behind bars.
A ZAOGA church in Vengere high-density suburb of Rusape lost $1 200 to five robbers the same year.
In December 2013, a robber pounced on Methodist Church members at Mupandawana Growth Point, Gutu, and relieved them of their mobile phones and cash.
The robber had sneaked into the church through a broken window.