A MASSIVE shake-up has hit the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) traffic section as Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri appears to move to weed out endemic corruption in the force.
Traffic cops have been under heavy criticism from motorists and the public over corruption and their heavy-handedness especially when dealing with commuter omnibuses trying to evade roadblocks.
Informed sources said over 2 000 traffic cops were being transferred from their stations across the country — some to rural areas — in a major shake-up aimed at not only weeding corruption, but also restoring “sanity” on the country’s roads.
Sources said the transfers began yesterday, according to a directive contained in a police radio communication (Compol HR JC 256 dated 5/5/14) from the ZRP chief of staff human resources, Senior Assistant Commissioner Justice Chengeta.
The transfers affect all traffic cops from the lowest ranking officer to the most senior officer in the traffic section.
The transfers will see traffic cops stationed at Plumtree transferred to as far as Mt Darwin, Chirundu, Victoria Falls and Mutare.
Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi refused to comment yesterday and referring questions to his boss Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba.
Charamba confirmed the development, but said the transfers were normal.
“There is nothing unusual about the transfers. It’s an organisation policy to transfer officers from time to time,” Charamba said. Last month, police reportedly transferred all cops at airports and border posts across the country in a shake-up aimed at fighting corruption at the country’s points of entry.
The transfer of traffic cops has been met with disappointment among the police officers in the traffic section.
“I was not anticipating to be transferred from Bulawayo to Masvingo,” said one Bulawayo traffic cop who indicated that the transfers would not only hit his pockets, but also disrupt her children’s education as they had to also transfer to schools in that town.
According to a research study by corruption watchdog Transparency International Zimbabwe) in July last year, police officers were among the most corrupt law enforcement workers in the country, especially traffic cops.
Recently traffic cops have faced charges of causing accidents and engaging in high-speed chases in the central business district with motorists.
They have also been known for smashing windows and using spikes to stop motorists allegedly trying to evade roadblocks.
As recently as last month, sixteen passengers in Bulawayo were left nursing serious bodily injuries after traffic cops threw spikes at a kombi they were travelling in, resulting in it overturning.
In the capital Harare, there have been reports of pedestrians losing their lives after being hit by kombis fleeing traffic cops demanding bribes.
Last week, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights lashed out at the ZRP traffic police for their allegedly heavy-handed tactics that endangered the lives of many.