Police officers manning the Beitbridge-Bulawayo highway are allegedly demanding “Christmas gifts” from motorists, especially South African-based Zimbabweans returning home for the festive season.
NewsDay was on Wednesday inundated with calls from motorists, who said they had to leave something as a Christmas gift at every roadblock they came across.
“I was travelling from Johannesburg on Monday and at almost every roadblock from Beitbridge to Bulawayo, police officers manning the roadblock were demanding ‘Christmas gifts’,” said Sifiso Tshuma.
“They were asking for items like bread or fizzy drinks.”
Another motorist, Tumelo Ndlovu, said at some roadblocks, police would ask for a gift if they find nothing faulty with a vehicle.
“The police along the highway are particularly keen to stop South African- registered vehicles, with the hope of finding occupants on the wrong side of the law,” he said.
“Once they have checked everything and discover you even have your seat- belt on, they then go on to demand a ‘Christmas gift’.”
Refiloe Ndou said the problem was that the police officers were of the impression that those coming from outside the country have a lot of money.
“When we are out there in other countries, we will be toiling for our families and we do not have an extra cent to spare,” she said.
“Therefore, the problem is that police officers manning these roadblocks presume we are loaded and yet we will not be having any money. Even the Mazoe drink that I will be carrying in my vehicle will be for my children back home.”
Police spokesperson for Matabeleland South, Tafanana Dzirutwe, said that his colleagues were doing was tantamount to bribery. “There is no way we can put it in a nice way and say police officers are asking for ‘Christmas gifts’, that is simply called bribery,” he said.
“It is no different from asking for money, so calling it a ‘Christmas gift’ does not cease to make it bribery.”
Dzirutwe said according to their code of conduct, what the police details were doing is corruption.
“Such incidents are unethical, unlawful and according to our code of conduct, it is corruption and we do not allow that,” he said.