Waterfalls gun robber, killer paid US$10,000 lobola with loot: NPA

HARARE – A lone armed robber who stole US$36,000 from a Harare home used US$10,000 to pay lobola for his wife, a court heard on Monday.

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, prosecutors alleged.

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 on December 9 last year at around 2AM, Machona broke into a house on Woodlands Road in the Uplands area of Waterfalls, waking up the occupants.

Machona, who was wearing a balaclava, allegedly pointed a gun at Kelvin Mutundwa, 29, who had woken up to investigate the noise disturbance.

He tied Mutundwa’s hands and legs before stealing US$2 which was in a drawer and three mobile phones. Unsatisfied, Chirenje said Machona ordered Mutundwa’s wife, Faith Muhuwa, to knock on one of the tenants’ bedrooms and pretend her child was having a medical emergency.

When the tenant Hilary Marufu, 22, opened the door, he found a gun pointed to his head. Machona allegedly demanded valuables and made off with a mobile phone, two wrist watches, necklaces and two bucket hats.

Machona, it is alleged, 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.

Support … Aaron Machona’s wife Fiona Tequimo Taitosse was in court to offer support to her husband

At around 1.45AM on January 30 this year, Machona allegedly broke into Mario Pepa’s home on Ruwa Avenue in Waterfalls.

Machona allegedly demanded cash from Pepa and his wife. Pepa wrestled Machona who shot through the asbestos roofing as a warning. But before anything was taken, the court heard, Machona fled after seeing lights from an approaching vehicle.

That same morning, at around 4AM, 43-year-old Shamiso Nhera – a house maid – was alone at another property at Picnic Park in Waterfalls when Machona allegedly broke in. 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 two mobile phones, two laptops and expensive perfumes. He went on to steal a safe containing US$36,000 which was mounted inside a fitted wardrobe.

Chirenje said to help him carry his loot, 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.

In another home invasion at around midnight on March 9, 2022, Machona allegedly targeted another house in Uplands, Waterfalls, where 31-year-old Jubilee Utsiwegota, her mother Mavis Utsiwegota, 78, and four children were sleeping.

Machona, it is alleged, 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.

Prosecutors say Machona shot the young woman in the head and she died instantly.

At around 2AM on April 13, prosecutors say Machona targeted a house on Forbes Road in Uplands. After breaking in, he pointed a gun at 50-year-old Archibald Nyikadzino and demanded cash. Nyikadzino handed over US$102.

Machona, it is alleged, 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.

Chirenje alleged that 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.

Prosecutors say 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.

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.

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