Matabeleland North police chief, Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai, has challenged Prime Minister (PM) Morgan Tsvangirai “to own up to the mess” surrounding his armoured BMW X5 vehicle impounded by police in Lupane three years ago over allegations it had been improperly brought into the country.
The car was impounded at the height of the 2008 election campaigns. The police said they were anxious to interview South African businessman Adrian Espag in connection with its importation.
The police alleged Espag had breached the Customs and Excise Act because he was supposed to have taken the vehicle out of Zimbabwe through the same port of entry when he returned to South Africa, but he had left it with someone not authorised to be in possession of the vehicle.
But Tsvangirai’s lawyer Job Sibanda told NewsDay on Wednesday police had declined to release the vehicle even after the Premier had paid a $2 000 fine.
“The issue is still as was reported last time. He (PM) paid $2 000, but the car is still with the police,” Sibanda said.
Veterai insisted the MDC-T leader should step forward and “clean the mess” surrounding the car.
“The car was imported illegally and it was being driven by the wrong person. The car is not a hot potato at all. It is just like any other car. The case has not gone through due process. If you do something wrong, the best thing is to clean the mess. They should clean their mess before they point fingers at the police.
“What did he pay the $2 000 for? When someone pays that kind of money, what are they admitting to? Did he pay the money to the police? Who made him (Tsvangirai) to pay the fine and for what? Zimbabwe has rule of law. I don’t make laws, but they are made in Parliament. The rule of law says at all times, we must all follow the laws,” he said.
Veterai said police were not selective in their application of the law, no matter what position a person occupied in society.
“We arrest even the police themselves. If you go to Fairbridge (a Bulawayo police camp), you will find police officers in cells. If they harass people and they (people) complain, we arrest them. We arrest police officers for defective vehicles.
“We didn’t take the PM’s car. He was just a president of the MDC then. Fortunately we have constables who read statutes and they impounded the car,” he said.
Veterai said there were a lot of cars impounded from injivas — as Zimbabweans based in South Africa are popularly known- in Tsholotsho and the impounded BMW X5 vehicle was not an exception.
“Even if you go to Tsholotsho, you will see that there are injivas who bring their cars illegally here and we have impounded them.
“Why can’t journalists raise that issue? Let journalists be advocates of the poor. A whole PM does not need a little paper to speak on his behalf.
“He has access to the Attorney General, the government lawyer, for advice and private lawyers,” he said.