File picture: AP

Plumtree - In what is arguably the biggest theft at a police station in Zimbabwe, gold worth almost $1 million mysteriously vanished from an armoury at Plumtree police station in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland South province.

The gold weighing 28.5kg was being kept as an exhibit at the station since September 2015. The total value of the stolen gold is $970 000 (about R14 million). Police have since arrested their colleague Constable Dingumuzi Ncube, 35, in connection with the theft.

The gold was being kept at the police station after border control and minerals unit police officers seized it at Plumtree border post from a man who had tried to smuggle it into Botswana.

Sources at the station said the theft came to light on Wednesday morning as police officers were searching for two missing rifles that had been booked in the charge office. When an officer went to check at the armoury for the missing rifles he was surprised to find the door unlocked.

“When he proceeded to the armoury, intending to open the armoury, he observed that there was a key inserted on the keyhole of the armoury door. Officers discovered that the door was not locked," a source said.

“One of the officers who had knowledge about the gold kept in the armoury as an exhibit proceeded to the bucket where the alleged gold weighing 28.5297kg was kept wrapped in a khaki paper and discovered that the khaki paper was torn and the gold was missing. However the khaki papers were left in the bucket,” said the source.

Police spokeswoman Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed Ncube’s arrest. She said another police officer suspected to be involved in the theft was on the run. 

“I can confirm that a police officer has been arrested in connection with the theft of 28.5kg of gold at Plumtree police station. The suspect is assisting police with investigations and unfortunately at the moment I can’t give more information as this will jeopardise investigations,” Charamba said.

According to sources, Ncube had allegedly bought three brand new vehicles - a Toyota Quantum, a Toyota Wish, and a Toyota Regius. The sources said police had since recovered $37 000 and 3kg of gold following Ncube’s arrest. 

According to the source, a self-proclaimed prophet blew the whistle on Ncube, who had consulted him in a bid to be prayed for so that he could have powers to evade arrest.

He gave the prophet 8kg of the gold as a "thank you". After arresting Ncube following the tip-off from the prophet, police have since launched a manhunt for a senior officer in connection with the theft. Sources said the prophet was approached by Ncube on Thursday, a day after it was discovered that the gold was missing.

African News Agency/ANA