Zenzo Siziba (44) of Lupane, a member of a five-man gang involved in the audacious Agribank Lupane branch safe heist back in June, has been handed a 12-year prison sentence for armed robbery.

Despite enduring the pain of a bullet lodged in his thigh, Siziba appeared before Bulawayo Senior Regional Magistrate Mr Collet Ncube, who returned to Hwange to conclude the trial after being transferred to Bulawayo.

Siziba, visibly suffering and relying on crutches to walk, pleaded guilty to the armed robbery charge. He expressed his desire to stand trial, hoping that once the case concluded, he could seek assistance in removing the bullet that had yet to be surgically extracted since his arrest on June 26th.

The sentence was delivered on Tuesday, with the magistrate imposing a 12-year jail term and suspending two years on the condition of good behaviour within five years. Consequently, Siziba is set to serve an effective 10-year prison sentence.

According to the prosecution, led by Ms Jemesina Erica Makanza, Siziba and his accomplices confronted a security guard at Agribank in Lupane, brandishing firearms and ordering the guard to vacate the premises. Armed with a hammer and explosives, they forcefully gained entry into the banking hall by breaking down the door and blasting open a money safe.

However, the gang was forced to flee empty-handed when the police, alerted by the bank’s security team, arrived at the scene. As Siziba and his accomplices made their escape, warning shots were fired by law enforcement, resulting in Siziba being struck by a bullet and subsequently apprehended.

During the investigation, police recovered a satchel containing two computer hard drives, used capped fuses, a stick of dynamite, a screwdriver, a hammer, and a shifting spanner. The hard drives were identified as belonging to Agribank, confirming the gang’s involvement in the robbery. Additionally, the gang had tampered with the bank’s CCTV system and damaged the entrance door using a hammer.

This is not the first time Siziba has faced criminal charges. In 2021, he was arrested alongside Abednico Ndlovu, Atkins Mahinzwi, Bruce Moyo, Kelvin Dzumbunu, and Gift Mwale in connection with a series of armed robberies committed between January and April of that year in Bulawayo and its surrounding areas. During that arrest, Siziba was found in possession of a 9mm pistol with a magazine containing six rounds. The outcome of that case and how Siziba was subsequently released remains unknown at this time.

While Siziba’s immediate concern remains the extraction of the bullet lodged in his thigh, his fate now lies within the prison walls, where he will serve his sentence.