On a peaceful late Friday afternoon, Clara, a domestic worker in Greendale, got more that she bargained for when she boarded what seemed to be a fairly empty kombi into town. Five men jostled her into the vehicle in an attempt to grab her handbag. They manhandled her until she wrestled herself out of their grip. Thwarted, they then sped off.
Not many kombis frequent inner Greendale, those that do are often full. Thieves are starting to take advantage of this, preying upon unsuspecting commuters.
“She got off easy,” remarked a resident in the area, “some have been thrown out of moving omnibuses and have been hurt badly, some even stabbed.” He said that a similar band of thieves had been operating in different parts of the city.
Many have reported run-ins with the similarly described individuals in the Greendale area. They have been reported to pickpocket passengers of their cell phones and wallets, steal change and even empty soft drink bottles. The infamous vehicle has been described as a grey, low roofed commuter omnibus with a dent in the front with orange strips down both sides.
According to The Standard, police have dealt with numerous cases of robberies carried out by commuter drivers. Harare Province spokesperson, Inspector Tedius Chibanda said that a large number of people have reported these robberies though the exact number is not known. Arrests have been made.
To avoid such incidents, commuters are advised to be highly alert when catching kombis, making certain that there are ‘actual’ passengers in the vehicles before they board. This could save not only their possessions but possibly their lives.
If attacked, it is important to try to retain details of the robbers and the vehicle, as this information is useful to the police. Most of these commuter omnibuses display fake number plates or do not put them on at all to avoid being tracked.
When confronted with such a situation, commuters are encouraged to cooperate with the robbers as heroics and defiance may lead to harm as recent local reports have indicated that some robbers have been armed.
In such an emergency, call and inform the authorities as soon as possible on any of the following numbers:
495753/481111 (Rhodesville), 336632 (Avondale), 860067/860061 (Borrowdale), 742383/743020 (Braeside), 777777 (Harare Central), 495796 (Mandara), 336647/301801 (Marlborough).