SUN REPORTER writes
SOME Easterners and their Bemba cousins are celebrating Zambia’s latest thief, a female version of James Bond, who made off with over $400,000 from the Barclays Bank vault.
From her blogs, it is clear that Pamela Gondwe, used her imagination not just for writing novels but to plot this bank heist, according to public opinion on social media.
“She must have read a lot of James Hardly Chase novels,” says Lusaka businessman, Simon Kabemba.
Social media is still awash with Pamela memes and postings.
“She has run away with her boyfriend to Uganda.”
“She has gone to Spain with her boyfriend.”
“Pamela is in Ghana”
“Pamela has been sighted in Dar es salaam, Tanzania in CCTV footage.”
Some even suggested that she had been detained at a border post.
Still others are posting about the supposedly good life that Pamela loves according to her Facebook posts.
What is known so far:
The Zambian investigative wings are frustrated with Tanzanian security authorities and Interpol for having “allowed” fugitive banker Pamela Gondwe sneak in their country without arresting her despite them being alerted on time before she landed. The CCTV shows her images, Zambian Watch has been informed.
According to Facebook postings, the Zambian crime squad feels frustrated but determined to get her arrested as the money stolen has potential of affecting the country’s inflation.
An alert was issued an hour before the Ethiopian airliner carrying Pamela landed in Tanzania and authorities in that country confirmed and assured that the plane had not landed yet but was being expected.
It has also been learnt that shortly after the plane arrived some Tanzanian authorities agents confirmed that Pamela had been arrested upon arrival but surprisingly this information was withdrawn later. The security agencies in Tanzania reversed their confirmation of the arrest but the CCTV at the airport showed Pamela arriving in Tanzania.
The source said because of the amount involved, their colleagues from Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) took keen interest in the matter and really helped in alerting other international agencies. It has been deemed the quickest response and international alert made with assurance for cooperation worldwide.
It has since established that Pamela earlier travelled to Spain on a private visit with her Ugandan lover Mr Jonsen Erics. Otherwise all the employment records show that she is single.
It is believed that about two weeks ago, Pamela went to work carrying an empty bag and claimed that she had just bought it from a vendor at Longacres.
She left the bag in the vault room and on Monday, Pamela told a workmate at the Vault section that she had received instructions from the Head Office to get the serial numbers for all the US Dollars in the Vault.
The two then entered the Vault and started serializing the batches of US dollars in the Vault.
Midway, Pamela offered her female colleague a sausage which was cold and the colleague decided to go and warm it from the staff canteen and eat it from there.
Pamela then quickly loaded all the US Dollars in the bag and hid the bag within the banking premises.
When her colleague returned, Pamela had already locked her part and told her colleague that she had locked her part and was on her way to the Saloon for a quick retouch to her hair.
She then used the back door out of the bank to the alley between Puma Filling Station and the Bank through to Longacres market and disappeared, leaving behind her mobile phone.
Later Bank official became suspicious after she did not return and they managed to open the Vault using a master key only to find that US$400,000 dollars missing.
Family sources have revealed that Pamela who is a niece of immediate past Bank of Zambia Governor Michael Gondwe has shocked the entire family.
“We are all very shocked because it is not like she was broke. She actually grew up in Dr Gondwe’s home. Pamela had money and we are just shocked that she could do such a thing, it is shocking,” a family member said.
The family source added that as Premier Retail Support Staff at the Bank, Pamela was getting about K20,000 a month as salary.
“You can see that this is not someone desperately in need of cash, she probably just wanted to go away and start a new life,” the source added.
And about four of Pamela’s close friends were summoned at DEC Headquarters in Lusaka for questioning.
The Commission is trying to piece together a puzzle of how Pamela single handily stole and concealed US$ 400,000 from Barclays Bank Longacres Branch.
It was discovered that Pamela who is single and without children paid rent in advance last week for her sisters and dependents to cover a period of ten months.
And some bank insiders have revealed that two managers at the Bank have since been suspended following the heist.
“It’s simply procedural. You know the Bank has got systems and if those systems are breached, someone has to pay and unfortunately the Managers are taking the heat. From the way it appears, they could even lose their jobs,” a bank employee said.
“Longacres Branch feels like a funeral today,” he added.
DEC officers also took away a number of bank employees from Risk Department for questioning to help with investigations.
One can indeed safely declare that Pamela is made of James Bond stuff..