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Comment: Corruption fuels police impersonation


The courts have recently dealt with a number of cases in which members of the public are being tried for police impersonation.

In most of the cases that have been brought to court those arrested for falsely portraying themselves as members of the police force were doing so to assert police-like authority in order to commit crimes.

The suspects have posed as police officers to enable themselves to legitimise illegal acts.

The crimes which have been committed by persons posing as police officers include theft of goods, extortion, assault and rape.

Felons have now found comfort in police impersonation to commit crimes and in many instances have gotten away with it.

This is a worrying trend which should reveal to the authorities that there is something wrong with policing in this country which makes it easy for criminals to operate under the veil of police authority.

In September last year, a police imposter bolted out of the charge office at the Bulawayo Central Police Station where he wanted to release suspects arrested for public fighting.

We reported last week that a young woman was raped in a cemetery in Harare by a man who had posed as a policeman.

The ease with which the crimes are committed by people pretending to be law enforcers we believe has a lot to do with corruption that is rampant in the police.

The noble act of maintaining law and order in this country has been subverted by corrupt officers who now regard policing as an avenue to extort money, demand bribes and confiscate goods.

The nature of policing in most urban centres in the country sometimes makes it difficult to identify who is a genuine cop or common crook.

There are plainclothes cops chasing after vendors and errant public transport drivers in the city centre and bus termini in townships.

Their mode of operation invites criminals to join them.

They usually pounce on unsuspecting vendors and arrest them before leading them on a circuitous route to the police station.

On the way deals are cut and suspects are released after paying a bribe. The same goes for those arresting kombi drivers. More often than not the cops do not produce IDs.

This mode of operation has also been adopted by municipal police details, and of course criminals.

Police impersonation would always be difficult to deal with as long as members of the police are corrupt themselves.

Wednesday we reported that two Waterfalls police officers were arrested last week for allegedly extorting $1 300 from a woman they had arrested for possessing a stolen vehicle and released her without charge.

Last week we reported that a Glen View Zimbabwe Republic Police neighbourhood watch committee member, Clifford Chikoli Darison, was arrested at the police station after allegedly being identified by one of his alleged rape victims.

Darison is alleged to have raped three women aged 15, 18 and 21 on different dates and times after accusing them of being in the company of men at odd hours.

Such acts by police officers only help to abet crime instead of fighting felons.

The image of the police must improve in the eyes of the common man and the first start is a resolute policy position to fight corruption at roadblocks and on the street.

Otherwise more crimes would be committed by people pretending to be the police.

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