by Andile Tshuma| Chronicle
A STUDENT from the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo is lucky to be alive after police opened fire on his pirate taxi, hours after he had been hired by alleged armed robbers who are suspected to have used his vehicle as a getaway car.
Police pounced on Mr Riyacha Takaedza, a Journalism student who doubles as a part time taxi driver, as he was driving along Gwanda Road opposite Ascot Shopping Centre last Wednesday after he failed to comply with their orders to stop. The student did not comply as he was not aware that those stopping him were police officers as they were moving in a private car. Police then fired some shots towards his car, forcing him to stop and he was immediately arrested and taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station.
Unknown to Mr Takaedza, four men who hired him earlier in the day were armed robbers and people who spotted him with them gave police his vehicle’s number plate which was used to launch a manhunt.
…When they fired the first shot, I told myself that I was breathing my last and I had met my fate…
In a telephone interview, Mr Takaedza narrated to The Chronicle events leading to what he termed his near death experience which occurred at around 11:30PM and saw him being released by the police on Friday.
“I was intercepted by police officers in a black car who signalled for me to stop. Since it was late in the night, I did not stop, and they opened fire at us.
When they fired the first shot, I told myself that I was breathing my last and I had met my fate. I was taken to the station where I then spent a terrible night going through a series of interrogations,” said Mr Takaedza.
“I was roughed up, some officer slapped me when we were still at the spot where I was arrested at Ascot Shopping Centre robots. One officer kicked me on my behind. I received some nasty treatment. I think they were convinced I was a thug and for them to believe my story took a lot of convincing.”
Mr Takaedza said he suspected that police had been acting on a tip off, leading to them arresting him after following his car along the City-Nust route that he plies.
He said earlier, a gang of four men approached him and asked to be taken to a city hotel where they said they wanted to process a deal they did not disclose.
Mr Takaedza said he took them to their destination and waited outside, before they came back. He left them at another spot in the city centre not knowing that he was assisting people on a robbery mission.
“I got paid so I complied and took them to Standard hotel. I have no idea what they were up to when they got there. However, we had to leave in a rush to some other place. When I got my money we parted ways,” he said.
“You know in this business you just get hired to ferry people to places and I didn’t know at that point that I was helping criminals to execute a robbery.”
Mr Takaedza said he was released the following day and police told him they may summon him back again.
Although he declined to disclose the other people he had when he was arrested, a close friend who declined to be named said she was with him and two other friends when it happened.
“I was so scared. I could not take a picture of the scene. We were stopped by CIDs in a black Mercedes Benz car. They stopped us and cuffed him. I have never seen real guns like those, let alone hear shots being fired. I’m glad he stopped because we could have all been killed there,” she said.
Social media was awash on Friday and Saturday with messages circulating among Nust students that Mr Takaedza had been arrested for armed robbery.
Some of the messages claimed that he had been killed in a shootout.
“Those things damage a person’s reputation. It’s not fair. I am a well-known person around Nust circles because I have served in the Students Representative Council. I would just love to let those that know me and care about my welfare that I am alive and safe, I have gone through a really tough time over the past few days. However, it shall pass,” said Mr Takaedza.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango said the matter had not yet been brought to her attention.
Nust Director of Communication and Marketing, Mr Felix Moyo, said he was out of town on business and was not aware of the matter.—@andile_tshuma | Featured image -file pic Bulawayo24 News