From: Fakhi Karume
Last week’s “robbery” at Barclays Bank’s Kinondoni branch, where armed gangsters reportedly grabbed Sh300 million, was faked, The Citizen can authoritatively report.
Impeccable sources close to the ongoing investigation into the incident confided in The Citizen that the “raid” by three men was planned and executed to cover up the theft of tens of millions of shillings that had previously taken place at the branch.
Some employees at the branch are said to have colluded with rogue police officers to fake a robbery in an attempt to hide the truth about the theft. The workers, including a senior official at the branch, are among those being held for questioning.
According to our inquiries, detectives are also looking for a police officer from Oyster Bay Police Station, who disappeared as investigators zeroed in on him.
The officer vanished after learning that one of the suspects had told detectives about the stage-managed “raid” and the role of the fugitive.
Yesterday, Dar es Salaam police boss Suleiman Kova declined to give details about the progress of the investigation, saying he would do so today at a news conference.
Asked about the whereabouts of the fugitive police officer, Mr Kova said: “We are still gathering and receiving more information and will give a comprehensive statement at a media briefing later.”
Earlier, Kinondoni Regional Police Commander Camillius Wambura told The Citizen that briefings on the incident would henceforth be provided by Mr Kova.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Barclays head of Marketing and Communications Neema-Rose Singo told The Citizen that she had nothing to say as it was a public holiday.
According to eyewitnesses, the “robbery” took place at around 9.30am last Tuesday and involved three men, who had arrived at the bank on a motorcycle. One remained outside while his accomplices entered the branch and walked out a few minutes later with a big bag that was purportedly stuffed with hundreds of millions of shillings.
The three men jumped on their motorcycle and sped away. Police arrived at the scene about 20 minutes later.
No shot was fired and the casual manner of the “robbers” raised eyebrows.
A day after the incident, some employees at the bank and several other people were arrested and their mobile phones confiscated by police as part of the investigation.
The source said the suspects were questioned separately in the presence of Mr Wambura and other senior police officers.
According to the source, drama unfolded when one of the bank’s employees volunteered to spill the beans as soon as he entered the interrogation room.
“He pleaded with investigators not to be too hard on him as he was ready to reveal the truth.
“At that juncture, one of the police officers (name withheld) asked to be allowed to leave the room, saying he was not feeling well.
“As soon as the officer had left, the Barclays employee said the officer who had just gone out knew everything about the plot,” the source said.
The employee told investigators that a huge amount of money had already been stolen at the branch and the “robbery” was a way of covering up the theft. He said the police officer in question knew everything beforehand.
Noticing that the officer was taking too long to return to the interrogation room, his boss telephoned him, only to be told by the officer that he had gone home because he was not feeling well.
When his bosses decided to trace him to his home, the officer was nowhere to be seen, and the gun he was carrying was found abandoned at a corner of the police building.
Last week, Ms Singo said the bank and its employees would cooperate with police in their endeavour to get to the bottom of the incident. The branch re-opened a day after the “raid”.
Police are under the spotlight again after a gang raided the Kariakoo branch of Habib Bank and reportedly made off with Sh1 billion last August.
Police have yet to arrest a suspect after what Mr Kova said was an incident that had all the hallmarks of an inside job.
The casual manner of the “robbers”, who nonchalantly strolled in and out of the bank in broad daylight without bothering to hide their identities, has fuelled complicity theories.
Some 48 hours later, police still seemed to have no idea who they were.