—K100m stolen from FMB, cop shot dead
Christmas is about peace, love and sharing but violent crimes have marred the mood as bank robberies have been the order of the week that saw assailants going away with hundreds of millions of kwacha.
In the latest attack on Tuesday night, armed men shot dead a police officer and injured another one as they stole about K100 million that was being taken into First Merchant Bank (FMB) Livingstone Towers Branch in Blantyre. The injured cop who was battling for life at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre as we went to press.
Ironically, the increasing spate of robberies has come at a time when Inspector General of Police Paul Kanyama declared war on criminals when he was appointed as the country’s top cop last month.
The deceased has been identified as Sergeant Patrick Mvula while the one in hospital, a female, is Constable Makina.
Southern Region Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa said FMB was, from the morning of December 23 2014 until late afternoon, collecting money from its branches within Blantyre using G4S security firm.
He said the exercise was through by 8.15pm when the money was taken to the bank’s Livingstone Towers Branch for a recount. He said the police stood at the door of the room as FMB staff counted the money.
Said Gondwa: “Suddenly, [in the course of the recount] four people in FMB uniforms came and the police officers [manning the doors] thought that they were FMB officials. They used the access code to open the door to the room which further convinced the officers that they were staff members.”
However, soon after opening the door, one of the four grabbed Mvula, snatched his gun and shot him three times in the head and leg while Makina was shot in the womb and chest, according to Gondwa. They then left the room with the boxes of money, jumped into an unidentified saloon car and drove off.”
He said the robbers are still at large, but police suspect that the robbery was an inside job.
FMB head of retail banking Ewen Hiwa said when the robbers entered the bank, staff on duty were ordered to lie down as the suspects made their way into the room where there was cash.
Said Hiwa: “The matter is under investigations while we try to calm staff members that are traumatised with the incident. We are also concerned with the loss of life of the police officer which is touching.”
Gondwa said the FMB robbery was the fourth in two days. He said on Monday K4.5 million was stolen at Petroda (Malawi) Limited head office in Blantyre where an accountant, Ugandan national Mustafa Abdul Karim, was shot dead.
Karim was coming from the bank to cash money when four people using a Nissan Tiida registration BL 2434 pounced on him as he was about to enter his office.
There was also a lunch hour robbery on Tuesday at Shire Hardware at Yiannakis in Limbe where K3.7 million also cashed from the bank was stolen as the cashier was entering his office.
Gondwa said yesterday the Nissan Tiida involved in the Yiannakis robbery, which was reported stolen three weeks ago in Limbe, was found parked at the house of the owner, Tanveer Ahmed.
He appealed to organisations to involve security organs when withdrawing large sums of money.