A group of Chinese nationals whose vehicle had been clamped for illegal parking along a street in uptown Harare threw a tantrum and broke a clamp padlock, before assaulting a municipal police officer who was part of a team that wanted to tow their car away.
The incident happened along Third Street, opposite Meikles Hotel around 10am, and attracted scores of passersby who gathered to watch the free drama, blocking the road in the process.
Trouble started when a Harare City Council employee clamped an Isuzu truck, registration number AAM 2720 which was being used by the four Chinese nationals. They had parked their vehicle without a parking disc.
They were told that they had to pay a $57 fine for the clamp to be removed but they felt that the penalty was too high.
“One of the guys then took a metal object from the car and broke the padlock, resulting in a scuffle between him and the municipal police,” an eyewitness, Sharon Taruvinga, said. “It seems the problem was made worse by an apparent communication breakdown between the officials and the Chinese because three of them did not understand English.
“After one of them broke the padlock, the council employees called their security guys and a truck was brought in to tow the car away but this further incensed the Chinese nationals.
They continued to resist. One of the guys stood between the tow-truck and their vehicle to ensure that it was not removed.
“Police officers also came to the scene but the Chinese would not be calmed. One of them actually hit a municipal police officer at the back of the head with a bag but was not arrested. The most vocal man in the group then slipped under the car and challenged the municipal workers to run over him if they wanted to tow the car away.”
The Chinese nationals claimed to be well connected, with sources saying they were doing some consultancy work for a government security organisation. The car was eventually towed away.