Blantyre (MaraviPost) –Over half a billion Malawi Kwacha (about US $11,600) was recovered in the wee hours of Thursday after a gang of smartly-dressed robbers burst into one of the major banks in the northern city of Mzuzu.

“A group of robbers in dark suits kidnapped a Standard Bank employee at gun-point at his residence and took him to the bank,” Maurice Chapola, Northern Region police spokesman, told maravipost.com.

He said the robbers were driving in a Standard Bank-branded vehicle. They forced the bank employee to drive the vehicle.

“Since the car had Standard Bank insignia and it was being driven by a senior employee of the bank the guards quickly opened the gates and wave it through,” said Chapola. “They forced the bank employee to use the bank’s secret code to open the secure bank doors.”

The police publicist said employees who were working overnight were forced to lie on the floor and the thugs gained entry to the vaults where they forced the employee they had taken hostage, who was strategically selected because he is in charge of the vaults, to open them.

“They stashed bundled of cash – amounting to K500,000, 000 – in bags and loaded them in the car and fled,” he said.

Chapola said once they left the bank employees called the Northern Region police headquarters in the city which alerted all roadblock of the suspicious Standard Bank vehicle.

The thugs managed to beat several roadblocks but officers manning a Malawi Revenue Authority post on the border with Zambia suspected this was the car they were alerted about.

“Officers open fired at the vehicle and the robbers fired back but after realising they were outgunned they abandoned the car and fled into the darkness into Zambia,” he said.

No one was hurt but the car was secured and all the money was secure.

Malawi Revenue Authority spokesman Steven Kapoloma told maravipost.com the tax-collectors kept the money overnight.

“We handed over the money, K500m, to the bank this morning,” he said.

This, if it had succeeded, could have been the biggest cash heist in Malawi in recent times. It comes in the wake of a series armed robberies targeting banks and businesses. A Portuguese national was recently gunned down in broad daylight as he drove into his business premises in Blantyre from a bank while two other robbers were set alight after robbing an Asian businessman of millions of Kwacha in broad daylight, also in Blantyre.

President Peter Mutharika last weekend said he was aware of the security break-down in the country and warned that he has declared war on the underworld.-maravipost

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