The crew of the Boundary Express coach in which about 40 passengers were stabbed and robbed by five armed robbers at night between Mvuma and Mushagashe tollgate early Monday morning are facing charges of contravening Covid-19 regulations, police said yesterday, as investigations continue.
Some of the people were hospitalised at Masvingo General Hospital after they were stabbed by the gang who commandeered the Beitbridge-bound bus and robbed passengers of more than US$15 980, R31 340 and $2 510.
In an interview, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said charges had been preferred on the crew, who for a start were driving at night in defiance of the lockdown, and warned transport operators against violating national lockdown regulations as they risk being arrested and prosecuted.
"The Beitbridge Border Post is still closed for the public and there is no need for people to board such buses."
Asst Comm Nyathi said it was worrying to note that some of these operators were also assisting smugglers, among other criminal activities. The police had intensified measures to curb violations of national lockdown regulations.
The Boundary Express coach left Mbudzi roundabout in Harare around 9pm and two of the unidentified armed robbers carrying knives, pistols and machetes had boarded at the same time when it set out for Beitbridge. The other three climbed aboard when the bus stopped at a food court.
Some of the victims note that a small vehicle was following behind the bus and was used as a getaway vehicle after the robbery.
Besides sustaining deep cuts all over their bodies, some of the passengers were thoroughly beaten up by the suspects who got away with cash and other valuables after ordering the bus driver to move into the bush and switch-off the lights.
The passengers were also sprayed in the eyes with an unknown liquid before the robbers left in the small vehicle after deflating one of the bus tyres. The driver had to drive the bus to Masvingo with a deflated tyre so that those injured could get assistance.
Asst Comm Nyathi said once all five robbers in the gang were aboard, one robber produced a gun and ordered the driver to drive into a dusty side road where they robbed all the passengers, threatening and using knives to get all available cash.
"One of the passengers who was being talkative or resisting was dragged out of the bus and stabbed. He was left unconscious before the robbers disappeared," Asst Comm Nyathi said.
He urged transport operators to ensure the security of their passengers and to also obey the national lockdown regulations by avoiding moving during the night.