Early warning sign for police

HARARE - Yesterday’s skirmishes between police and combative kombi crews in Chitungwiza are a sign of a dangerous mood by citizens who are tired of run-ins with law enforcement agents.

Kombis were grounded in Chitungwiza as drivers protested against alleged police corruption and extortion.

Production hours were lost in what turned out to be a symbolic protest whose modus operandi was a carbon copy of the South African taxi strikes by militant operators.

That it needed the intervention of armed riot police to force kombis to ferry stranded commuters to work — well after production lines had commenced — underlined the determination by the kombi crews to drive the message home.

What is of concern to us, motorists and indeed the commuter omnibus operators, is the dominance of police roadblocks mounted on small stretches of our roads.

These meaningless roadblocks which are an irritant to commuters, operators and motorists, are so many that they have raised suspicion that police officers are there to cream off money from both commuter omnibuses and motorists.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has publicly said spot fines slapped on “offending” drivers, at these roadblocks, are illegal.

Yet police officers remain defiant and in most cases are wrongly applying the law.

For many road users it appears the police are from different companies. How can a journey that is supposed to take less than 30 minutes stretch for close to an hour to complete because of unending roadblocks?

The police officers behave as if they are in competition.

This kind of behaviour only serves to confirm the urban legend that roadblocks are set up as cash cows for corrupt police officers than they are a law enforcement instrument for errant drivers.

We urge relevant authorities to put up mechanisms that will put an end to the rot on our roads.

By its nature corruption is not easy to detect but the demonstration by kombis in a typical South African style offers glimpses into the extent of corruption in our society.

If we are not careful it can easily be our “Marikana” tragedy as kombi crews might just one day decide to put up a fight.

The police should do its work in an honest way acceptable to both public transport operators and the travelling public.

We are fully aware that the police know about the decadence within their rank and file and need to keep an eye on the activities of their officials.

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