Traffic police menace

HARARE - Traffic police officers manning the country’s roads have devised a sinister plot to “milk” kombi drivers and motorists of their hard-earned cash for free passage on numerous roadblocks mounted across the country’s roads.

Some police officers have reportedly been picked up in connection with the scam that has infuriated mainly kombi drivers, who strive to conform to traffic requirements.

Police roadblocks are now referred to as ATM’s (Automated Teller Machines) where officers openly ask for bribes from motorists.

There is also an outcry over the way police officers chase around kombis in congested streets, a development which has led to the death of people after being hit by the commuter omnibuses whose drivers will be fleeing from the police.

Police are in the habit of smashing windscreens of commuter omnibuses.

But it is the latest unofficial operation by the police which has riled kombi drivers and operators.

The scam code named Tora Mari United is a fleecing sting that has seen a number of junior traffic officers driving nice vehicles — in contrast to their scanty civil service salaries.

The plot entails that kombi drivers — who do not want to pay an exorbitant, unreceipted spot fine — make a daily payment of $5 as a “tollgate” fee.

Week-long investigations by the Daily News have revealed that the scam is a well-knitted plan, involving cops and touts, who liaise with the kombi crew at several bus termini in Harare and its hinterland.

After witnessing the scam, the Daily News took the matter to the police internal investigations unit — leading to the arrest of some traffic cops.

The paper also had a long discussion with police spokesperson Charity Charamba, who however, could not reveal the total number of police officer arrested in connection with the operation.

A normal day for kombi drivers like Fungai Banda starts with a courtesy call to a tout whose sole purpose is to receive $5 per kombi.

Those who refuse to pay the agent-cum- tout a “tollgate” fee of $5, pay heavily on the road as cops on the roads demand a bribe of $10 or a receipt of $15 to $20 for various defects — even when there are no defects.

The apprehension of the five police officers is apparently just a tip of the iceberg with kombi drivers alleging that the practice is widespread.

“We are being milked daily by these police officers. We are sick and tired and it is time to deal with this menace which is drowning my work and income for no reason,” an infuriated Banda said while entering police headquarters to see Charamba in the company of the Daily News crew.

Charamba was flanked by two other police officers.

A number of drivers who spoke to this paper said failure to “grease the palms” (bribe) of the police officers often resulted in prolonged delays at the numerous roadblocks along major roads throughout the country.

On Monday and Tuesday, a kombi driver who was giving information to the Daily News paid money to a tout who recorded his kombi’s details in a notebook at the bus termini at the corner of Chinhoyi Street and Samora Machel Avenue. 

The registration would be sent to the police officers manning road blocks on the route to allow the kombi to pass without being delayed.

The arrest of the five police officers is apparently just the tip of the iceberg with kombi drivers alleging that the practice is widespread.

“We are being milked daily by these police officers. We are sick and tired and it is time to deal with this menace which is drowning my work and income for no reason,” the infuriated kombi driver said.

Banda said roadblocks had literally become feeding troughs for the country’s traffic cops — while their (drivers) families and employers are getting nothing from their investments.

“My vehicle was impounded and taken to VID (Vehicle Inspection Department) without any fault; this was done to ensure that I suffer because I had refused to grease (bribe) them, this is not how a country should work,” Banda said.

During the meeting with Charamba, the kombi driver did not mince his words as he nailed the cops “harassing” kombi drivers by demanding the bribes.

“I had all the papers but still the police kept bothering me, even though I was carrying the stipulated number of passengers, the police stopped me near Heroes Acre,” said Banda who plies the Warren Park route.

In some instances, there will be  five roadblocks along the Harare/Chitungwiza road, and each and every kombi is expected to pay not less than $20 per day from a total income of less $80, leaving the owner of the kombi with less than $60.

“It is very rare that you are not fined, even if your kombi is in condition. Police officers will always find a fault and if you ague, you will be severely punished,” said Farai Muhonde, a driver plying City-Chitungwiza route.

“We are forced to work until late so that we are able to meet our targets and this has a bearing in the long run, as the vehicles are overworked,” Muhonde said.

As a result of the scam — which could be generating thousands of dollars for a few police officers — unlicensed drivers and un-roadworthy vehicles are cruising through the porous roadblocks that are supposed to act as search points — while those who refuse to smear the palms of the cops are made to suffer.

During investigations, the Daily News witnessed a police officer inspecting a vehicle at a roadblock along Chitungwiza Road.

The policeman looked at the number plate and then at his mobile phone before signalling the kombi to pass through.

This was despite the fact that the kombi had more than the stipulated 15 passengers, something that attracts a heavy penalty. This puts the lives of travellers at risk.

The country’s traffic cops, who at one point took lie-detecting tests to prove they were not corrupt, have been placed in the spotlight recently after claims from other sectors, linking them to corrupt activities.

Comments (30)

Council police officers are also involved. Once one arrives in harare, the driver is no longer in-charge. The tout takes over the vehicle and whichever driver refuses to hand over the combi to the tout is not allowed to pick up passengers, and his vehicle is also towed away. Touts are also conduits of the "grease" to municipal officers. Go to Second street and you will see what i am saying

eish - 19 October 2013

Leave these cops alone or else they will resort to making pay for the oxygen from God. Zimbabwe is as sick and tired as its 'president'.

Mavara Azarevhu - 19 October 2013

vangagodii iyo corruption yacho ichitangira kumusoro

mapudege - 19 October 2013

Traffic officer manning the Rugare robot are one case imagine some of the kombis they let pass are nolonger road worthy because of the $5.00 toll gate fee they are operating on the road if people die these cops blame the drivers for overspeeding of which the button starts with them by taking bribes from these kombi crew. CG please look into this especially the Warren Park traffic department are the ones who mann the robot

Tawanda - 19 October 2013

The kombi drivers aren't all innocent in this. The only true victims are the commuters. And then there's this: http://www.hararenews.co.zw/2013/10/unsuspecting-commuters-robbed-by-drivers/

Eish - 19 October 2013

The police force is ROTTEN to the core together with their bosses. You give them evidence incriminating the officers and the police will call you names even suggesting that you got downs syndrome. They also work in cahoots with criminals eg kidnappers etc. I have NO confidence in this partisan police force which is not even national.

Mudhiniwe - 19 October 2013

AIRPORT POLICE MURIKUITA BASA PANA SEKE NADELPORT RAMBAI MAKADARO HAMUTORI MARI YEMUNHU TAKADARO TAKUTANGA

gombarume - 19 October 2013

It is worse with South African registered cars. Traffic Police will ask for reflectors on a new car that has clear reflectors in order to seek a bribe. South African tourists are targeted by traffic police and used as cash cows

Josiah - 19 October 2013

The number of roadblocks along the Beit Bridge to Bulawayo and their proximity will support the notion that these roadblocks are used to milk those arriving to visit relatives as well as tourists. It is a shame that the traffic police are tarnishing the ZRP due to greed.

Jozi - 19 October 2013

HUYAI MUZVIONERE MU BYO PANA 6th Ave na Lobengula Street. dzinopinda maRED robot maskati machena Police yakatarisa. ask vakomana vepaDavies Hall, they will tell you vakavatadza vakomana vemakombi. come and see for yourself.

mhofela - 19 October 2013

I have thoughts that have been cooking up in my spirit for at least 7 years ago. Sometime in 2006 I had visions during an hour of prayer. I saw as it were a giant of the type of Goliath. He was full of putrefying wounds from the sole of the feet to the crown of the head. He had a deep and dreadful wound upon his heart. Suddenly, he was given the skin of a newly born baby. A further wonder was that on his thigh was engraved the words "Zimbabwe the Land of the Holiness of God". In my musings I said, how could that be? Then was it said to me that the sores and wounds are religious, economic, social and political sins. They shall all be forgiven. So I was an inquisitive citizen during the GNU trying to figure out if that was the healing time for the Giant!

Mar Ire Commons - 19 October 2013

I think these economic sins especially corruption and robbery by the policy are a cancer

Mar Ire Commons - 19 October 2013

I am told Chihuri ordered them to recover monies used to buy the BMWs the police spokesperson must disown this first. Why are they no longer issuing tickets demanding spot fines. My other worry is a fine for the same offence varies from 5 to 20 usd so when the police HQ check the fines book do they see these discrepancies? The joy of tickets was when you go to pay they cross check with the booklet and you pay the correct fine. I was once given a ticket in Beatrice and when I was paying it at Glen Norah Police station I was told a different figure almost a quarter of what had been written. Imagine if it was a spot fine. Then the Police Commissioner was not Chihuri. When Chihuri came the complexion of the police force changed. Chihuri by refusing people to be issued with tickets he is encouraging this bribe scam. The minister of Home affairs must enforce that people be given tickets and pay later when they get a gvt receipt. I will tell you we will see very reduced road blocks. Funny enough these road blocks are so many in Mashonaland. Its faster to drive to Gweru via Mvuma than using Bulawayo road and the biggest delay is in Mashonalanda where they can mount up to 10 road blocks between Harare and Kadoma.

Maita Manyuka - 21 October 2013

l challenge the dailynews investigating team to come to Beitbridge and they will be surprised

whistleblower - 21 October 2013

Your paper should also cover the airport road, where the police are busy fleecing motorists and kombis, but right along the road, just parallel to the independence arc there is a lot of activities involving sand poachers and trenches are now common features. Maybe the police are also getting paid by these sand poachers who are degrading the environment. Terrorists could use the trenches to launch an attack on the Presidential motorcade motorcade attack with much easy and get away with it.

reason - 21 October 2013

Bulawayo Traffic (Drill Hall) pana Constable Shoko, atove nemari kupfuura mapurisa ose ipapo. He drives a personal grey BMW, rents a full house in Parklands, Khumalo. I wonder where all this money is coming from. They used to operate vari two na Sgt Dickson anova akazo transfer to Traffic HQ in Harare. These traffic guys now see themselve as a special force in the ZRP and do not even consider other officer in the force. May the responsible authorities please cleanse up this Bulawayo Traffic Department, we can't leave our organisation being tarnished with a few greedy guys who no longer respect their purpose in the force.

Tino Kumuka - 21 October 2013

benz yepabridge after the masvingo rd tollgate ndiyo imwe- they are milking my dri ver ten dollars every day

kuorera - 21 October 2013

benz yepabridge after the masvingo rd tollgate ndiyo imwe- they are milking my dri ver ten dollars every day

kuorera - 21 October 2013

@reason yu a so stupid yu care so much about an 90 year useless man who has caused so much suffering on Zimbabweans let the terrorist kill him n Zim wll neva b the same again without that baboon ..

Mnangagwa - 21 October 2013

@mnangagwa its you who is displaying your stupidity. Reason just said "Presidential Motorcade". It can be now or in future, for the damage to the environment right under the noses of these corrupt police of ongoing and my be permanent.

Zvichapera Chete - 21 October 2013

Is this still news. it is an open secret that cops are corrupt through and through and they brag about it. this spot fine menace is killing road safety.

tafataona - 21 October 2013

Poverty combined with greediness corrupts . The Zim Traffic police are the worst in the world they rip from already suffering people , something needs to be done urgently they are contributing to accidents with their numerous unnecessary sucking roadblocks delaying who doing business for the nation economy to progress.To make matters worse unworthy, risk, dangerous vehicles are allowed in the road because they can pay bribe.It a pity it needs urgent attention

moyo - 23 October 2013

Neuhori wese uri muZimbabwe mapurisa iwaya ndiwo azonyatsoita zvinshamisa here? Siyanayi neve faivi dhorazi mutibvunzire madhaimondi edu?

Concerned - 23 October 2013

This is all about subsidized salaries arranged from the top of ZRP. The easy way to stop the rot is to stop the road blocks which everyone knows are achieving nothing useful in terms of road safety - but that won't happen. Despite all the road blocks, every breakdown is still marked by some broken branches and not a triangle.

Joe Cool - 23 October 2013

I am surprised this is newsworthy. it aint taxi drivers alone, nor Harare and its periphery alone neither. the practice has been endemic since well before 2008. the Mafiosi government is well aware and gratefull the officers have been innovative. the reason why soldiers were sent to Chiadzwa was to silence them from hunger tears by devising means by which there worthless zimdollar salaries. please improve the quality of your reporting. thank you.

jafta pilani - 23 October 2013

kombis shuld pay pliz

eddie - 24 October 2013

The traffic police are all over Matebeleland thus time if the year to up to February to fix the Ndebeke speaking drivers from SA. They will first speak in Shona and when they realise you are not Shina speaking they will find some fault come he'll come sunshine. Imagine you are driving a brand new car with inbuilt reflectors and working hazard lights and are asked to stick some red rectangles as well.

Chimurenga - 25 October 2013

zim yakapenga

prof - 25 October 2013

zim yakapenga, chihuri nemapurisa ake, chiwengwa nemasoja ake, bonyongwe ne cio murikubatsira bob kuurayanyika muchitambudza vanhu. imboitai but a people made desperate by despair will use desperate means.

prof-SA - 25 October 2013

ma targeted economic sanctions that were imposed by EU and the allies & Nikuv

Jajuchichi Dingiswayo - 25 October 2013

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.