Our traffic cops and the mushroom granny

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An intriguing story that happened around the Beatrice farming area along the Harare-Masvingo highway during the just-ended festive season may once again expose the world-class corruption within our traffic police.

Landscape with Tangai Chipangura

Police chiefs try hard to defend their charges — often citing the “shining and exemplary” role they play on foreign tours of duty — but they have failed to cover the rot that has blemished the force, especially our traffic cops who have had themselves counted among the world’s most corrupt – of unprecedented notoriety levels in the region.

The Anti-Corruption Trust (ACT) of Southern Africa reported not so long back that the level of graft among our traffic cops had reached a point where officers are demanding bribes in public.

Just after Christmas over a week ago, this team of traffic cops was manning a roadblock just out of Harare along the Masvingo highway near Marirangwe turn-off on the road leading to Mhondoro, so the story goes.

Owing to the rampant corruption among its ranks, the police are believed to have put in place a rule that forbids traffic officers from carrying any cash on their person when manning checkpoints, to facilitate raids by anti-corruption teams.

This system was introduced after such search raids failed to prosecute clear cases of bribe-taking because officers would, upon being caught literally red-handed with bribe loot in their pockets, simply claim they had brought the money from home.

So, because being found with any money in one’s pockets now constitutes an offence, our ever enterprising cops have devised ways of continuing with their rotten ways while keeping their persons squeaky clean.

Immediately after taking a bribe from traffic offenders, the money is tacked at some hiding place, usually in bushes across the road.
So, it happened that some old woman from the nearby Gilston Compound, near the golf course commonly referred to as “paMeeting”, was on a mushroom hunt in the bushes along the highway when; lo and behold; she stumbled upon a find beyond her wildest dream — a heap of greenbacks.

There was all over a thousand United States dollars tacked under some stone!

Disbelieving her luck, she dumped the mushroom tied in her old wrapping cloth on the spot replacing it with the greenbacks and tying it tightly around her waist.

She rushed back to the compound where she confided her story to a friend before embarking on a shopping spree at the compound shops.
Instead of a mushroom meal, she is said to have spoilt herself with tinned foods among other goodies befitting Christmas.

Meanwhile, out on the highway, our traffic cops were preparing to leave their checkpoint and had gone to retrieve their loot when they found nothing but broken mushroom scattered all over the place.
All the cash — a whole day’s loot — had disappeared without trace!
Being police officers, their training told them their suspect would have gone no further than the nearby compound.

So, they descended on the compound, according to reliable sources and eyewitnesses, breathing fire.

Holiday revellers, mostly farm labourers, were harassed, but no money was found.

Threats of unknown action were issued and, it is said, the lucky old lady’s friend, out of either fear or jealous, tipped the police.
It was getting dark and, as told by witnesses, the police highway Mercedes Benz vehicle sped towards the old woman’s shack in the compound — siren screaming and all blue roof and headlights blazing.

In a spectacle that left the whole compound in awe, the police squad car screeched to a halt outside the shack and uniformed police officers jumped out screaming orders for everyone to get out.

The woman suiting the informer’s description emerged from one of the huts and was allegedly immediately attacked with open hands by one of the officers while the rest mobbed her demanding their money.

Stunned and confused, the woman is said to have gone back into her hut, brought the money, and handed it over to the angry officers.
Another police officer, who allegedly was not part of the team, got wind of what had happened and spilled the beans on his colleagues leading to investigations being instituted.

Our sources said the police officers’ defence was that the old woman had actually stolen the money from them at the roadblock — money they had been ticketing offending motorists for.

Their story, however, developed holes when the amount of money recorded in their spot fines ticket book for that day was at complete variance with the loot recovered from the woman.

The fines book had less than a quarter of the total allegedly stolen by the woman from the compound.

The police officers, according to sources, also failed to adequately explain how the old farm woman could have stolen the fines money from right under their noses at a roadblock!

The case is believed to be still under investigation. Such is the extent to which our thieving law enforcement agents can get.

It is, therefore, refreshing, if it is true, that the police have officially cut down on their activity on the roads, especially checkpoints that had mushroomed alarmingly everywhere in Zimbabwe.

In 2010, an ACT report titled Mini-Assessment Report: Corruption by Traffic Police Officers and Vehicle Drivers in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe showed that our police are the most corrupt in the region.

20 COMMENTS

  1. We have had enough of corruption within our ZRP. Let these acts vanish and open a new chapter. If its done by the police itself who is going to enforce the law then ? Lord have mercy

  2. haiwawo ngatitaurei nezvevari kupa mari dzechioko muhomwe dzacho,ukanzi $100 fine chingobhadhara upihwe ticket,tozocomplainer kana wanyimwa ticket,end of the story

  3. The government must scratch this sport fine system because it is losing a lot of revenue in fines to these corrupt traffic cops. That would be the only was to reduce this menace.

  4. Lets fight against corrupt members of the society esp the leaders firsh. VACHIHURI muriko ingawani.

  5. While i agree it takes 2 to tango, i also agree that traffic police are a menace on our roads. The level of graft has reached unprecedented levels in the force no wonder why every officer now drives to work with own cars. What has empowered them the most is this spot fine policy which they have used to scare the lights out of motorists by threatening to impound the car if you dont have the cash and this coercion results in one agreeing to pay a bribe. Besides, the rot cascades from the top going down because the police act stipulates that whatever an officer is given by well wishers must first be declared with Chihuri who then gives the greenlight but this is not at all happening. The Chibage case serves as a tip of the iceberg regarding the levels of graft starting from the echelons of power within the sorry ZRP.

  6. ko kuzorova mbuya ava ndochii,deno vakangoti mwini mwini navo mari yakabuda pasina zvemhirizhonga

  7. Theres never a right way of doin a wrong thing.The fact tht e police are paid peanuts doesnt justify e way they misadminister sport fines.Infact , sport fines shd stop.It z only in Zimbabwe tht we hv such a thing as sport fine.

  8. Theres never a right way of doin a wrong thing.The fact tht e police are paid peanuts doesnt justify e way they misadminister sport fines.Infact , sport fines shd stop.It z only in Zimbabwe tht we hv such a thing as sport fine.Mbavha ngadzisvodewo mhani

  9. I wonder why the rot has been allowed for so long. I wish Zimbabweans could jointly get a solution to this cancer. It has gone on too long!!!!!

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