Cops defy anti-smashing directive

Taxi and kombi operators in Harare have expressed concern over the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s continued defiance of a government directive against the smashing of their vehicles’ windscreens.


Police details have for a long time been resorting to smashing the windscreens of vehicles whose drivers they deem to be disobeying the law. Hardly any victim of the window smashing orgy has reported the crime, considering it futile to do so as the police simply ignore them in order to protect their colleagues.

Transport operators complain that police officers are operating above the law, apparently with the blessing of their superiors who have armed them with baton sticks.

A disgruntled taxi driver who plies the Avondale route said: “As far as we are concerned, what they are doing is against the law and we wonder where they are getting the powers to do that. They think that the only way to deal with a kombi or taxi driver is to smash windscreens. Surely this is not acceptable in a normal society.”

Justice and Legal Affairs Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, told the Senate last month that the smashing of windscreens by traffic cops amounted to harassment and intimidation and victims were entitled to sue the police for damages.

Programmes Officer for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Dzimbabwe Chimbga, said Zimbabwe was a police state and so illegal conduct by the police continued unchecked.

“The issue here is whether the smashing of windows is a method of arrest recognized at law or not. It is not and therefore such police action is an illegal act,” added Chimbga.

Harare provincial police spokesperson, James Sabau defended the police action saying it was a “lifesaving strategy”.

“The smashing of windscreens is circumstantial. It is done when one (police officer) is faced with a situation where it will be life or death. Under those circumstances the police have no other option because we have lost about three police officers who have been run over intentionally by kombi drivers,” said Sabau.

“If we give in to the demands of the kombi crews we will fail to implement the law. The problem is that when a policeman is run over, it is not an issue but when one kombi has its windscreen smashed so much noise is made over the issue,” said Sabau.

But eye witnesses say cops who patrol streets near the Harare Central Police Station smash windows of stationary vehicles that they deem to be illegally picking up passengers.

Post published in: News

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