The police-kombi wars: A death trap in waiting

The tout has paid for damages now and on the policeman in question, I have made a police report and they say they are investigating the matter.”

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REPORT BY MOSES MATENGA

 

1-CollagesLAST WEEK, a commuter omnibus operator Beauty Nyanhongo found herself at the receiving end after a police officer Sergeant Panganai Sylvester Maqata decided to do the unthinkable.

Maqata, according to Nyanhongo, ordered a tout Trevor Musorosekwa to drag her driver out of her commuter omnibus along Fourth Street to give chase to an errant kombi driver.

This marked the beginning of an adventurous chase of a rogue kombi driver by an unlicensed tout that ended when the kombi hit a ridge in Msasa.

“I made a report at Rhodesville Police Station and they say they are investigating  the case. The tout has paid for damages now and on the policeman in question, I have made a police report and they say they are investigating the matter,” Nyanhongo said.

Her case exposes what Harare commuters and residents have lived with for some time now in the central business district where the fights between the police and kombi drivers on one hand and that of municipal cops and vendors on the other have often ended fatally.

Recently, a mother of three who works in the city centre confessed that for four years, she has not brought her children to town for any business for fear of the menacing kombi drivers.

“I can’t take chances. It’s now a city of fights, if it is not the ZRP versus kombi drivers, it is the council police versus vendors’ fight. Whichever way, it is a problem of fights in the city,” she said.

As early as seven every morning, police officers armed with baton sticks stand at corners at every kombi rank in the city ready to pounce.

Their main targets are kombi drivers and taxi operators, particularly those plying the city-Avondale route along Leopold Takawira Street where near-fatal accidents take place almost every day.

 

In April last year, an elderly woman died after being knocked down by a kombi whose driver was fleeing from police near the Copacabana bus terminus in central Harare.

In December, a Tafara resident and war veteran Raphael Mbanje died at the corner of Chinhoyi and Bank Streets in downtown Harare and the accident saw Mbanje being killed instantly by the reversing kombi.

“A policeman approached the vehicle and smashed the windscreen with a baton stick. I heard a sound and the driver continued to reverse it and ran over the man once. People screamed and shouted and the kombi driver panicked and continued to drive, running over the man again and killing him on the spot,” said a witness then.

Only last week in Bulawayo, 16 commuters were injured after an accident, when a kombi was fleeing from police.

Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo, the Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson, told our sister publication Southern Eye that the driver was under age and was speeding.

Witnesses said the police threw spikes in front of the moving kombi leading to the accident.

“After the kombi overturned, the police officers fled from the roadblock, but one of them was caught and beaten up by the public for endangering the lives of people just for a fine,” an eye witness said.

“It shows that these cops are not properly trained because they seem to equate human lives to money. The people in that kombi were just innocent residents going to work and for them to have a brush with death because of overzealous police officers is shocking. Whatever offence the kombi driver had committed does not justify the police reaction. People were injured and police won’t take the blame as usual.”

Simbarashe Moyo, Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA) chairperson feels that the daily fights were the manifestation of the never-ending corruption where police have realised there was a honey-jar in the city centre.

While Moyo feels that way, Peter Musindo, a resident, said that the problem in the city was of the soliciting of bribes by both municipal police and the ZRP officers, causing the kombi drivers to flee instead of parting with lots of money.

Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi recently told Parliament that of the 6 000 kombis in the city, more than 2 000 were not licensed properly, hence the fights.

What makes the fights even more dangerous is that there is too much congestion in the city and speeding under such can only cause accidents.

Over the weekend, police spokesperson Senior Assistant commissioner Charity Charamba said the law enforcement authority would take action against commuter operators who employ drivers who do not hold proper documentation, thereby putting the lives of ordinary citizens at risk.

She said the accident which occurred in Harare over the weekend was caused by an unlicensed driver who, in the process of running away from the police officers at a roadblock, was involved in an accident.

In February, police quickly denied they were to blame after two people who died during a police-kombi chase.

A kombi driver, Owen Chakurungana, said: “We go through roadblocks that are countless and we pay fines. It’s the same even in town where we’re chased around by the police. So it leaves us with no option, but to speed off so as to save the little money we make.”

To date, Harare City Council has undertaken a number of blitzes in conjunction with the police, but there is no tangible progress, except the fights that have contributed to deaths and injuries in the CBD.

Drivers say police are to blame for their never-ending demanding of bribes, while the police maintain they will only be doing their job.

But as the fights go on, it’s the commuter that continues to be endangered in an uncertain environment called the CBD.

13 Responses to The police-kombi wars: A death trap in waiting

  1. Terence March 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    This is a tragedy indeed.haiperi nyaya yacho .i think as commuters people should become more agrasive now not saying beating up people i dont condone violence.mukaona kombi yakuvhetemeswa ichitiziswa mapurisa batanai muite mutyairi amire kwete kuti vanhu 15 varimukombi mondundurudzwa neone person achikuisai mudanger.lets be vigilent vabereki ndisu tinofa in the end.makombi drivers they do not care about us ava they only care about saving a dolar at the expense of your life.zvemapurisa hatichatauri they are corupt and heartless asi chokwadi is kana mapepa ako ekombi akakwana hapana chekutiza .

  2. Jojo March 27, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Terence wazobvuma

  3. Terence March 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    @Jojo tiri tese nhasi .but i still refer you to my previous coment .fact is arikuraya vanhu makombi drivas even mapurisa ari corupt which i mentioned in my previous coment.jojo hapana pawakambotiza mapurisa usina mhosva iwe kutongoaona wotiza there has to be a reason.lets get into law here .if kombi driver hits someone nekombi or akakudubuka its either anotongwa nemhosva culpable homicide or attempted murder or murder depending on how the accident happened.and excuse yekuti ndanga ndichitiza mapurisa inotomutsimbirira futi paresisting arrest etc etc.mupurisa anga achitamdanisa nekombi is protected by law kunzi was duing his lawaful duty..yes there are cases yemaspikes mentioned iyo iyo its pure evil hayo there mupurisa akonzeresa .asi chokwadi ndechekuti driver akasatiza no accident

    • Siokononzi March 27, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

      Terrence can u address the issue of contributory negligence in as much as the police and the combis are concerned with the injuries or deaths that result from these cat and mouse chases. I think the answer lies in the various answers to this poser.

  4. Samuel fils March 27, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Hey Cops never demand bribes but us the community that cops policy is the one that is corrupt. Why cant u just desist from bribing the cops by paying the required amount of fine or having your papers in order. Thanx cops for a job well done by trying to bring sanity in the CBD although some of u do the unthinkable in some instances. Yes u are so many u cant be the same

  5. Musona March 27, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    The country does not need these stupid kombis at all. We are told Mugabe has six degrees or diplomas? Diplomas to introduce dangerous kombis? The people running government have got brains of small kids. Can they not see what mayhem these kombis are causing everyday? The transport system before 1980 was second to none. Destroyed by ZanuPF. These kombis are a danger to society.
    I have failed to find the rationale in introducing these moving coffins. Pfungwa dzemunhu mutema dzandikandisa mapfumo pasi. Always striving for disorderliness. When things are orderly they are easy to control and it’s safer. I suppose if you were born in the muck you will always like the life of muck.

    • Chen Chikezha March 27, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

      @Musona there was Salisbury United and UBS which had proper timetables that were followed to the minute even though they did not have clutch for gear changing. Every 30minutes a bus would be at the bus stop as scheduled and all bus stops had timetables pasted on them for commuters to see what time the next bus was coming. This was in all urban centres, chero isu veGwelo taiziva kuti 05h30 kune bhazi rekutanga kubva kuSenga then at 06h00 and for school kids at 06h30 then town workers at 07h00. Come independece and the name change to Zvipiko (ZUPCO) all systems down for the buses had to ferry people from all over to Harare for rallies and burials at Warren Park 1 Zanu Acre.

  6. Musona March 27, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    The majority of these politicians come from dysfunctional families were disorder was the order of the day.

  7. ngqwa March 27, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    lizithi lifundile destrying property lelilizwe laze labuswa zinyoni yaaaaaa liyehluleka combi drivers shd beat these mapolisa o hhata

  8. zimson March 27, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    I have seen this situation for a long time..chakunyanya kukuvara ivanhu kwete police or mahwindi.mapurisa basa ravo ndere kuchengeta vanhu isu kwete zvavo zvekuswero mhanyisa combi kurwadziwa kuti mari yaenda.ko pavakabvira zvichapera riinhi..tototya kufamba muharare nekuti mapurira arikumhanyisa combi..gentle men the ones who expect to improve here is the police vakabata kombi ngaivharirwe kusvika zvanaka kwete zvekubata komba kombi 2 minutes apo still haina mapaper akakwana ndokutamba nesu kauku what do thy expect kana vachisiya munhu asina licence nekuti avapa pondo..kungopota paseri apa yatosiiwa.if the police wants this situation changed it can and above all lets do our party tokwirawo kombi panotenderwa nemutemo..thank you..

  9. Bafo March 28, 2014 at 4:35 am #

    Why do police feel they are responsible for checking ‘City Council’ permits and ‘Umthelo’ , why not let the city council do that. Its living proof that it works in S.A, they have the ‘Metro Police’ . Then the VID check the fitness of the vehicles. The police in road blocks should be working in conjuction with these authorities only to check any illegal staff in vehicles…not like what they are currently doing.

  10. Robert Master March 28, 2014 at 5:20 am #

    what’s needed is an organized public transport system. There are many capable organizations like Pioneer who can single handedly run a mass transportation system based on timetables and stipulated fares. local authorities can actually go into joint ventures with such organizations by providing infrastructure and rebates on certain licenses. this can create real sustainable employment for hundreds of thousands if not a million across the country. the govt will also be guaranteed of a structured revenue base. joburg they have Riyavaya in Cape Town they have MetroBus. our supposedly learned ministers and town clerks are always visiting these RSA cities; it’s amazing how they fail to learn good transportation systems and replicate at home. The only person who can resist such an idea is one that thrives on chaos and corruption at the expense of people’s lives. hayi bo……..

    • gelo April 1, 2014 at 7:19 am #

      Well guys I understand were all you are coming from and I really feel for all of us. But there are things that we should all bear in mind. For example if these so called police officers are taking bribes and allowing the kombi to go then 2moro then know Kui that same kombi will pay a bribe.
      Anyway I’m just going to be straight to what I want to say in ZIMBABWE we need them kombis because they are the fastest means of transportation and the safest provided they are roadworthy
      However the problem comes when the police officers gets frustrated that the kombi has all the papers hence delay it by making they park up on the side of the road for over an hour thus losing money for the kombi driver and the owner guess what happens next the driver loss the job because the other drivers are cashing more and they don’t have any problems with police
      So instead what’s the driver’s option run from the police or either pay a bribe
      So to be honest with you guys it is a very serious matter and it needs looking into vigorously
      I can tell you all this because I once drove and owned a kombi and I know how it all works
      Bottom line is kombis have to have all the papers and at the same time be prepared to pay a bribe and the easy way out is to keep the papers in your pocket and pay a fine like you don’t have them only show them to VI because if you show the police they will actually rip them off lol
      Cheers guys

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