A lone armed robber who stole US$36 000 from a Harare home and used US$10 000 to pay lobola for his wife appeared in court on Monday.
Prosecutors alleged that for several months, Aaron Franscico Machona, 37, terrorised residents of Waterfalls in Harare – including shooting a woman in the head in front of her children.
Machona was charged with murder, attempted robbery, armed robbery and money laundering when he appeared before Harare magistrate Yeukai Dzuda.
Dzuda remanded him in custody to May 8 after advising him to apply for bail at the High Court.
Anesu Chirenje, for the National Prosecuting Authority, alleged that:
i). on December 9, 2021, at around 2 AM, Machona broke into a house on Woodlands Road in the Uplands area of Waterfalls, pointed a gun at Kelvin Mutundwa, 29, who had woken up to investigate the noise disturbance.
ii). He tied Mutundwa’s hands and legs before stealing US$2 which was in a drawer and three mobile phones. Machona ordered Mutundwa’s wife, Faith Muhuwa, to knock on one of the tenants’ bedrooms and pretend her child was having a medical emergency.
iii). the tenant, Hilary Marufu, 22, opened the door, and found a gun pointed at his head. Machona allegedly demanded valuables and made off with a mobile phone, two wristwatches, necklaces and two bucket hats.
iv). Machona also seized keys to a BMW 3 Series parked outside which he used as his gate-away car. It was later found dumped in Chitungwiza.
v). At around 1.45 AM on January 30, 20222, Machona allegedly broke into Mario Pepa’s home on Ruwa Avenue in Waterfalls, demanded cash from Pepa and his wife. Pepa wrestled Machona who shot through the asbestos roofing as a warning. Machona fled after seeing lights from an approaching vehicle.
vi). That same morning, at around 4 AM, pounced at another property at Picnic Park in Waterfalls where 43-year-old Shamiso Nhera – a housemaid – was alone. Nhera heard the dog barking and woke up to investigate only to be confronted by an armed man in the passage.
Machona allegedly force-marched Nhera to the bedroom where he blindfolded her. Machona allegedly stole:
- a). two mobile phones,
- b). two laptops
- c). expensive perfumes.
- d). a safe containing US$36,000 which was mounted inside a fitted wardrobe.
Machona removed Nhera’s blindfold and ordered her to carry the safe out of the house and she complied. After walking some 200 meters, Machona allegedly ordered Nhera to put down the safe, return to the house and never look back.
vii). On March 9, 2022, at midnight, Machona pounced on another house in Uplands, Waterfalls, where 31-year-old Jubilee Utsiwegota, her mother Mavis Utsiwegota, 78, and four children were sleeping. He violently assaulted Mavis with her own walking stick while demanding cash. She handed over US$60 and two mobile phones but Machona kept on the assault until Jubilee tried to restrain him. Machona shot her in the head and she died instantly.
viii). On April 13, around 2 AM, Machona broke into a house on Forbes Road in Uplands, pointed a gun at 50-year-old Archibald Nyikadzino and demanded cash. Nyikadzino handed over US$102. He ordered Nyikadzino to lead him to another room where 39-year-old Clifford Nyakudya was sleeping. He ordered both Nyikadzino and Nyakudya to lie on the floor before taking three mobile phones and US$17. Machona then force-marched the two men into a third bedroom where Jorum Nyikadzino, 35, was sleeping. He took US$70 and a mobile phone.
ix). Machona used some of the proceeds of his crimes to pay lobola for his wife who has a Mozambican father and Zimbabwean mother. Machona travelled to Mozambique for the event, paying out US$10 000.
x). He also allegedly purchased a Toyota Runx vehicle and a residential stand at Unit C in Seke on which he built a three-roomed house.
Machona was arrested after police received information that he had been seen with a gun. When he was interrogated, he allegedly gave up information on his months-long one-man crime wave.