By Catherine Sasman GOBABIS Six Zimbabwean nationals were yesterday in police custody in connection with the robbery of the Gobabis Standard Bank branch on Tuesday morning. Five of the suspects were apprehended in Botswana and are currently being held in police custody in that country. The suspect caught in Namibia, Oscar Mlule, was apprehended by the Gobabis police shortly after the robbery that took place around nine in the morning on Tuesday. He was the driver of the getaway car, a white Nissan Navara. The other names confirmed are Mthulisi (Happy) Sibanda, Matole (Themba) Nasiosus, Plan (Klowane) Ndebele, and master mind Moyo Sikhumbuzo. One suspect’s name could not be obtained, and the police noted that there might not be enough evidence to link him to the robbery. He apparently walked 70 km before he was caught. While in custody of the Gobabis Police, Mlule gave information of the whereabouts of his accomplices. This led to a 25-hour chase – from 10 in the morning on Tuesday until around 11 o’clock the next morning – that went as far as 30 km into Botswana with the permission of the Botswana authorities. After the operation, the security forces drove triumphantly with Mlule past the bank that got robbed. Mlule told the police that he had dropped off the other suspects outside the border post. They then jumped over a border fence into Botswana. Mlule was to join them later. It was first believed that only three men were responsible for the robbery. According to Sila Bezuidenhout, owner and managing director of Sila Security Services, two of the suspects held down the security guard who was standing outside the bank, while three others, who were armed, entered the bank. The three armed robbers ordered everyone in the bank to lay on the ground, jumped over the counter and got away with N$195 000. A combined force of 20 people from the Gobabis police and Sila Security Services gave chase from the Namibian side. The Botswana police assisted the force in that country. Seven cars and one helicopter were used in the search for the men. “The search for the suspects in Botswana took a long time because of the thick bush terrain,” said Bezuidenhout. She said the men were walking in the bushes close to the national road. Mlule was caught with N$2 000 on him, which he reportedly intended to use for petrol for the double cab. The other three men were found in possession of N$35 000, N$40 000 and N$46 000 respectively. Detective Inspector and Omaheke regional crime investigation coordinator, Rudolph Isaak, told New Era that the five men in Botswana might be brought to Namibia to stand trial. “We must request the Botswana authorities to extradite the suspects,” said Isaak. It is suspected that the six men were responsible for all four armed robberies of Standard Bank branches in Okahandja, Windhoek and Gobabis in two months. The investigation so far, however, has not yet confirmed this.
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