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27.03.2007 General News

Hackman robbed at gun point…his Sekelele cashier held hostage in ¢300m robbery

By Cynthia Boakye
Hackman robbed at gun point…his Sekelele cashier held hostage in ¢300m robbery

Four masked men armed with guns and machetes last Saturday afternoon stormed the offices of the Health Care Section of Sekelele Company Limited, belonging to the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, and made away with about ¢300 million.

The broad daylight robbers also made off with one Kasapa and a pink Sony Ericsson cell phone belonging to two employees.

According to the Managing Director, Akosua Owusu-Agyemang, (daughter of the Minister) the robbers, who arrived on motorbikes, entered the premises at around 2:15 pm as if they were normal visitors on legitimate business. At the time there were about seven employees in the office; most of the staff had left for the day.

Two of the robbers, Ms Owusu-Agyemang said, went directly into the cashier's office, held her hostage, took out sacks, and packed away all the previous day"s revenue. She estimates the losses to amount to about ¢300m, though they are still compiling their losses. The men were present for only five minutes before silently moving out without drawing any further notice.

The female cashier, suffering from shock, lost her power of speech, after the death-threatening attack on her in her office.

While the two were packing the money, another, who was in a raincoat, stood beside the door to keep watch. Meanwhile, a fourth robber rushed to a nearby office where the Sales and Marketing Manager Stephen Zikpi was, and marched him and a driver at gun point and kept them beneath the stairs.

In an interview, the middle-aged Chief Cashier, Mary Gyemfa who has been working with the company for six years and from whose custody the money was stolen, said that she was in her office checking old receipts when she heard someone had entered the room.

Thinking it was one of the sales personnel she continued with her work, only to raise her head a few seconds later to notice a stranger in a white T- shirt holding a brand new sharpened cutlass, staring at her. She starred back for a few seconds until the robber swiftly grabbed her cell phone and some money from her desk.

Madam Gyemfa said, she was frightened by the intruder, and was just about to enquire about his mission when a second person entered through the gate holding a gun in one hand and a machete in the other.

Madam Gyemfa stated that the first robber then communicated something to the other in Hausa, prompting his order to her to keep mute and bend down, saying that he would slay her if she made any move.

According to her, the second robber then rushed to the safe, which he was unable to open despite holding the key. He had the cashier open the safe and fill his bag with cash. He then picked up a sack from the office containing rice, poured it away and loaded the rest of the money into it until the safe was empty.

Narrating his ordeal, Sales and Marketing Manager Stephen Zikpi pointed out that he had sent a driver of the company, William Osei, to get him lunch. About five seconds later, the door to his office opened again. This time the driver entered accompanied by a stranger, who moved to his table, picked up his phone and placed it into his pocket.

According to Mr Osei, this robber then shouted, "Where is the money?” pointing an AK-47 rifle at him. Mr Osei and the driver led the thief to the cashier's office.

Mr Osei and his driver were then made to squat underneath the stairs facing the wall, not knowing what was to happen to them next.

Mr Zikpi added that, about a minute or two later, he saw two men with machetes, guns and two packed sacks in hand coming out from the cashier's office. Just then their assailant again marched them into another office, took the keys out and rushed out of the building.

Mr Zikpi said the office's Field Manager arrived as the thieves left, and used his cell phone to call the police emergency numbers, from which he was directed to report to the nearest police station.

A Police CID in charge of the Legon Police Station Dickson Atuna confirmed the incident to this reporter and said, though he handled the initial investigations, he was in the process of handing the case over to CID officials at the Police Headquarters.

The Minister and his wife, Comfort, were seen at the Ghana Praise concert Sunday night. A source close to the family said the Minister, his family and employees are, at least, grateful to God that nobody was physically hurt during the ordeal.