Dar es Salaam. Nine employees of Stanbic Bank in Dar es Salaam were arrested yesterday evening as the police moved in to investigate a walk-in robbery in which over Sh1 billion was reportedly carted away by armed suspects.
The nine employees were among 13 people in custody over the heist at the bank's Mayfair Plaza Branch along Mwai Kibaki Road.
Kinondoni Regional Police Commander, Mr Camillius Wambura, told The Citizen that the other four suspects included a watchman and certain three individuals whose identities he declined to reveal.
Mr Wambura said all of the suspects have been locked up at the Oysterbay Police Station as investigations continued to unravel the truth in the robbery that is being seen as an inside job.
Mr Wambura led a team of uniformed and plainclothes police officers in combing the area and inspecting the banking hall for clues of what might have transpired.
According to Mr Wambura, the police would release the official figure of the actual amount of money stolen once their investigation was completed.
"Today we cannot say with finality how much money has been stolen as everyone interrogated is giving a different figure," he told The Citizen in a telephone interview.
However, a credible source within the bank confided to this paper that officials involved in the investigation had by late afternoon established up to Sh1.0943 billion was missing.
The source who requested that we don't publish his name for fear of retribution and the fact that he was not allowed to speak to the media, said the robbers stole mixed currencies in the incident that occurred at about 11am.
According to the source, the amount missing included euros 260,000 (Sh598 million), $175,000 (Sh280,000), Sh216 million and 190 pounds (Sh380,000). Sh30 million- part of the local currency--was taken from the bank's Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
Unconfirmed reports say several customers who were in the bank were also frisked.
No one was injured and not a single bullet was fired in the entire operation that lasted about 30 minutes, according employees.
According to witnesses, an unknown number of people walked into the bank alongside a stream of other customers.
"Once inside, they overpowered the guard, took the remote button and proceeded to the office of the strong room key custodian," one employee narrated.
The employee, who cannot be named here for security reasons, said the suspects met the strong room custodian along the corridor as he came out of the washroom.
"They frog-matched the guard and the custodian into the strong room which they emptied before moving to the ATM which they also combed," said the shocked employee. All the while, those inside the bank were told to lie down and not raise any voice.
After the robbers were done, they locked the guard, staff and some customers in the strong room. The thugs are said to have left the key to the strong room at the bank counter as they walked away.
Police said they did not know how the suspects arrived at the bank or how they escaped. There were varied accounts of the means of transport they used but eye witnesses said they saw them load what appeared like cartons into a car that sped away.
Investigators were puzzled why employees did not press the panic button once the guard was put under arrest. They were also suspicious over why no scuffle took place in the entire 30 minutes.
Yesterday's robbery came after a lull in similar cases targeting the financial institutions. The last high profile crime of this nature too place on April 15 this year when Sh500 million was stolen from Barclays bank's Kinondoni Branch.
Two police officers and at least seven individuals, including two senior managers of the Barclays Kinondoni Branch were charged with the theft of the millions of shillings in a stage-managed robbery. Police would later establish the money was stolen before the police helped the suspects in stage managing the "robbery".
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