TWO daring bogus police officers appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday for allegedly mounting a series of roadblocks at State House where they demanded cash bribes from motorists whom they accused of compromising President Robert Mugabe’s security by passing through the area.
State House is the official residence of the President of Zimbabwe and is therefore a high security zone where pedestrians and motorists are forbidden to pass by between 6pm and 6am.
The suspects, Aaron Mugagani and Frazer Kabinara – both from Chitungwiza – and their alleged accomplices who are still at large, are alleged to have mounted the illegal police checkpoints between January and August this year, and in the process threatened some motorists with torture and disappearance if they refused to pay the bribes.
Mugagani (34) and Kabinara (28) yesterday appeared before provincial magistrate Tendai Mahwe charged with extortion and impersonation and were remanded in custody to August 20 after their bail application was opposed by prosecutor Sharon Mashavira.
Seven motorists who allegedly fell prey to the pair are expected to testify in the matter.
Allegations against the two are that on January 21 this year, Pfumai Kwenje, who is the first complainant in the matter, was driving past State House when he was waved down to stop by Mugagani and Kabinara, who were clad in police uniforms.
The bogus cops accused Kwenje of ignoring traffic signs and ordered him to drive into State House before confiscating his cellphone, further accusing him of having used the gadget in the area to communicate falsehoods about the Head of State.
Kwenje was warned that if he wanted to live, he would have to give the bogus cops all his valuables. Out of fear, Kwenje allegedly gave the two men $1 085 to avoid being taken for “torture” inside State House walls.
In May, another alleged victim, Tafirenyika Soko, drove past State House proceeding to David Livingstone School to pick up his children. As he parked his car, the two men allegedly approached him and accused him of talking on the cellphone while passing by State House thereby compromising Mugabe’s security.
They threatened to impound his vehicle and take him into the State House grounds where his fate would be decided. On their way towards State House, Soko was ordered to part with $500 for his release, but he managed to pay only $30 which was on his person.
The two men are alleged to have used the same method to swindle Kahondo Hilton, David Muzofa, Charles Zenda Muzanenhamo, Rangarirai Gwatiringa and Godfrey Duri.
Details of how the two men were arrested were not made available in the State papers, but they were positively identified by the complainants at an identification parade conducted at Harare Central Police Station.
In a related development, a Highlands police officer appeared in court on Tuesday facing charges of mounting an illegal roadblock along Airport Road in Harare where he, together with two alleged accomplices still at large, demanded bribes from motorists rushing to catch flights at Harare International Airport.
The suspect, Tobias Chitukudza (26), was charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe granted him $500 bail and remanded the matter to August 19.