Maputo — A gang of four men, armed with a Makarov pistol, on Monday raided a petrol station in the town of Changara, in the western Mozambican province of Tete, and stole over 490,000 meticais (about 8,060 US dollars).
The petrol station was unguarded because, as became clear later in the day, the gang had reached an arrangement with the private security company that was supposed to be protecting the station.
The gang drove off towards the port of Beira, and might have escaped arrest had their getaway vehicle, a Toyota Corolla, not developed a puncture. The police caught up with them in Guro district, in Manica province, where they were trying to change the tyre.
Two of the robbers escaped, but the police arrested the other two, Francisco Machava (who carried the pistol used in the robbery) and Sansao Mboene. The police also recovered 221,000 meticais of the stolen money, the pistol, and 16 bullets.
The two said they had been recruited for the robbery in Beira, by the two men who escaped, whom they named as Winas and Evas. Machava said he purchased the pistol for 30,000 meticais from a police officer in Beira.
Machava said they robbed the petrol station at 07.00, because they knew at this time the manager was preparing the money from the weekend's takings, which he would deposit in the local bank.
“Winas said we should not be afraid of robbing the petrol station in broad daylight, because he had agreed with the head of the private security company that no guards would be on duty when we attacked”, Machava continued. “I had the pistol in my hand and I threatened the person who had the money. When he saw the pistol he started to tremble, and Winas and Evas took the money”.
Machava said they had left Beira on Sunday, and refuelled the car in Chimoio before reaching Changara. “We kept a close watch on the time”, he said, “for they would be moving the money taken on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which is a lot”.
They left the petrol station feeling under no pressure since, as promised, there were no security guards. “But when we entered Guro district, one of the tyres began to lose air”, Machava continued. “We stopped to change it, and that's when the two of us were caught. Winas and Evas, when they saw the situation, run into the bush”.
For his part, Mboene claimed he had joined the group without knowing that the other three intended to commit a crime. “They told us they would take us to a place where we had a mission to carry out”, he said.
The spokesperson for the Tete provincial police command, Lurdes Ferreira, told reporters that the manager of the petrol station alerted police to the robbery immediately. The Tete Command gave chase to the robbers, and alerted the provincial and district commands in Manica and Sofala.
Ferreira said operations are continuing to locate and arrest the other two members of the gang.