Gunshots fired as armed robbers attack Zimbabwe-bound bus

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Thupeyo Muleya in Beitbridge

“It’s a miracle! I survived by God’s grace as two bullets missed my head at close range.”

This is how Zimbabwean bus driver Thembane Ngwenya recounted his “near death” experience with two armed robbers in South Africa on Friday morning.

Ngwenya was driving 58 Zimbabwean passengers from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe when the robbers pounced.

The passengers lost cellphones and thousands of Rands.

Police in South Africa’s Limpopo Province could not be reached for comment.

“We were between Zebediella and Polokwane when I heard a disturbing sound,” the visibly shaken Ngwenya told ZTN News soon after arriving in Zimbabwe.

“I asked the co-driver about the sound, but he, too, had no clue regarding what was going on. Suddenly, I could not engage the gears or brakes. The door then opened automatically.”

Ngwenya continued: “I managed to stop the bus after a few metres. And as I tried to investigate the problem, one of the robbers shot at me. He, however, missed my head narrowly. He tried again, but missed. The magazine fell off his pistol as he tried a third time.

“The man (joked) that I was very religious. Pulling me away from the bus, he demanded R40 000, which, he said, a client in Johannesburg had asked me to give to his family in Zimbabwe. I insisted I had no money, and he threatened to shoot me in the leg.”

The robbers are said to have ordered all passengers to surrender their valuables.

Co-driver Pierson Zano said: “They threatened to shoot anyone who resisted. One of them searched all passengers and took away a backpack from one passenger and loaded money and cellphones in it. They searched the passengers twice.”

A passenger, Lloyd Zvorufura, said, “I was seated up front when they shot at the driver. He is fortunate to be alive. Some passengers were assaulted for resisting, and the criminals took my cellphone, R70 and USD100.”

Another passenger, Ms Kristle Moyo, chipped in, “One of them threatened to kill me, claiming I had noticed his face.”

Armed robberies targeting Zimbabwean cross-border travellers are increasing, with over 15 buses attacked in the last 12 months.