A ZIMBABWE Republic Police operation to get rid of mushika-shika pirate taxis has netted 100 drivers, while another 100 vehicles were impounded this week.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told journalists during a media briefing at Chikurubi Support Unit yesterday that the exercise code-named Operation Kwete Mushika-shika would be intensified to remove illegal taxi operators from the roads.
She said most of them were engaged in nefarious and criminal activities, including forcing people to go into vehicles when they don’t want to, harassing women, indecent assault, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and shouting obscenities.
“The operation started last week and by this week 200 mushika-shika operators have been arrested and their vehicles impounded with the help of staff from the Central Vehicle Registry, Vehicle Inspection Department, the police theft squad and traffic section,” Charamba said.
“We are screening them to see if their vehicles are properly registered as taxis and we have the vehicle theft squad linked to Interpol which can check if a vehicle is properly registered, as well as an expert team that can check engine chassis numbers.”
Charamba said these illegal taxi operators had devised strategies to dodge police.
But she said police had also updated their own strategies to apprehend the operators.
Some of the strategies that mushika-shika operators use to dodge law enforcement agents include use of fake number plates which they often change to avoid getting nabbed.
Charamba said one of the illegal operators recently imported from Japan 100 vehicles to operate as pirate taxis.
“Their unlawful acts include parading coffins of their dead colleagues. The police will not allow that. It is also uncultured and shows how these illegal taxi operators can commit one offence to another,” she said.
“Others hang on top of vehicles, and in Zvishavane a Honda Fit vehicle carried eight passengers, and they all perished in an accident with the bodies burnt beyond recognition.”
Officer Commanding traffic section, Senior Assistant Commissioner Felistas Mjanga said in November last year alone around 15 hit-and-run accidents involving mushika-shika operators were recorded.
“Failure to report an accident is an offence, and it is also an offence for the driver to just disappear without rendering assistance to the person he has hit,” Mjanga said.
Charamba warned that all un-registered taxis would be treated as stolen vehicles and their owners prosecuted.
“The courts will decide on their fate, and some vehicles might be forfeited to the State,” she said.