Police ‘rob’ passengers

Traffic Police now demand a US$5 spot fine from passengers who hail public transport from undesignated areas.

Unscrupulous cops operating in small teams composed of both uniformed and plain clothed officers, have been ambushing unsuspecting commuters at Topics Building, Marondera Hotel and Charlesdale Service Station along the Harare-Mutare road.

“Officers in plain clothes board public transport as if travelling to either Harare or Mutare. When the vehicle has loaded, the policeman flashes his ID and instructs the driver to head for the district police station with all passengers aboard. At the police station unsuspecting passengers are then ordered to parade behind a building and pay US$5 admission of guilt fines. They are not issued receipts,” said Farai Ndoro a recent victim of the fine.

In Harare, police officers charge drivers a fine for picking up passengers at undesignated pick-up points, but the passengers are not charged.

When asked to comment on police conduct, Marondera District Police Spokesperson, Inspector Bhusilani Bhebhe, said, “I will come back to you after making enquiries with the Officer Commanding Traffic Section”. He never did.

Commuters here expressed concern at the corrupt practice which they said exposed police double standards.

“Surprisingly, some pick up points, such as Charlesdale Service Station, are out of town and there are no road signs to indicate hitch-hiking is prohibited. Defence Forces such as soldiers, police and Prison Officers continued to take public transport at the so-called no hitch-hiking zones. This is the height of double standards on the part of police.

Also, commuter omnibuses owned by police officers pick up passengers at the prohibited areas. It has also come to our attention that some public vehicles owned by police officers offer low fares to lure them into a trap. When the vehicle is full, a police officer in plain clothes declares that the passengers are under arrest and instructs the driver to drive to the police station,” said a disgruntled commuter omnibus driver.

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