NEWS about the policeman who was allegedly caught at a roadblock with a fake receipt book and $800 in cash could just be a tip of the iceberg.
Motorists have borne the brunt of these errant cops who will always want to find something to charge you as an offence.
Two Fridays ago, I was driving down Crowhill Road in Borrowdale on my way to a ladies’ fellowship in the Brooke when I was stopped by a policeman who asked for my licence, which I showed him.
He then asked if I had reflectors and a fire extinguisher. I showed him the items, but he said the fire extinguisher was not the proper one.
After a few minutes of arguing, he let me go, but he had already said I would be charged $40 for not having the correct fire extinguisher.
Is that the correct amount for such an offence?
This car was imported via Tanzania and it had this fire extinguisher from Dar es Salaam, crossed into Zambia and Zimbabwe via Chirundu.
From Chirundu, it was driven until it got to Harare and delivered to its owner who has since driven this car using the same items and never has he been bothered at roadblocks for the past five months.
But I have, however, driven along Harare roads where brokendown vehicles do not display red triangles as required by the police and instead put tree branches.
How come police do not detect these yet their presence is so heavy on our roads?
If they are serious about their policing, how come most broken-down vehicles that do not have triangles to display danger ahead?
I also doubt if these motorists do have fire extinguishers in their cars and I have also no doubt that these errant motorists pay bribes to these unscrupulous and dishonest policemen who sometimes engage in running battles with motorists.
The other annoying thing is that some of these cops set roadblocks near traffic lights to apprehend those motorists that drive through a red traffic light.
I was once stopped allegedly going through a red traffic light which changed from green to red when I had already crossed the white line.
We argued about this until some motorist who had seen me drive through came to my rescue. He explained to the cops that the traffic light was green when I crossed the road, but turned red in the process.
The motorist was apparently a law enforcement agent who ordered the policemen off this particular roadblock and sped off in their Mercedes Benz car.
Can someone explain to me how a motorist can guess when a traffic light will change?
Are we magicians or prophets that can tell when these traffic lights will change colour from green to red?
Another offence cops are charging motorists for is when they drive over the stop line, which in most cases is invisible because council has not painted road markings to make them visible.
One motorist was stopped and started arguing about this offence as he said the visibility of the white line had diminished when he decided to drive off before the policemen had concluded their argument, leaving them shocked and surprised.
Such is what is being experienced by many motorists, but I can say with authority that most trucks driving in and around the city do not have these gadgets and one such driver who operates from Sanganayi Inn boasted that these policemen were their “friends” who they give bribes to drive vehicles that are dangerous to other road users.
I challenge the policemen and Vehicle Inspection Department officers to go and inspect these trucks that are always parked at Sanganayi Inn waiting for people to hire them.
I now think twice whenever I plan to have a journey out of the city centre. Although my vehicle is fully licensed in accordance with the country’s road regulations, I am so scared to drive.
Despite having a spare wheel, wheel spanner, jack and fire extinguisher, the police will still find fault with my car.
What worries me most is the number of roadblocks I come across on way to any destination in and out of the city centre. Police roadblocks are found at every traffic light and intersections to ambush motorists.
One motorist who had stopped at traffic lights and decided to check on a message on the phone was harangued by a policeman who accused him of making a phone call.
The man argued that he had merely touched the phone to see where the message had come from, but the policeman said he should have parked off the roadside and he was demanding a $50 spot fine or else he would appear in court as this was a serious matter.
I am, however, very pleased to learn that an officer from the Police Protection Unit has appeared in court for mounting a fake roadblock and extorting $142 from an unsuspecting motorist.
This is no doubt criminal abuse of duty by a public officer, something that never used to happen in the past.
The cop, who was in the company of a colleague who remains at large, stopped a motorist who was told that he was under arrest for several traffic offences and that he should pay $380.But the motorist only had $90 when the accused said it was not enough. He said he had to add another $50.
The cop pocketed the money and did not issue a receipt showing payment of admittance to having committed a traffic offence.
The motorist drove towards Norton and came across some traffic cops and explained his ordeal when he was told he had been swindled.
He decided to drive back to Harare city when he saw the suspect’s vehicle ahead. A chase ensued near Westlea suburb along Bulawayo Road.
The rogue policemen drove at high speed and made a U-turn towards Norton at Warren Park roundabout and drove towards Kuwadzana Roundabout and turned into High Glen Road when their vehicle veered off the road ending their run from the motorist.
Something has to be done about these roadblocks. Most of the cops I have come across do not display their force numbers, a clear indication that they are up to conning motorists on these roads.
Bernard Andries Bester deserves a big pat on the back for having chased the notorious cops until luck run out on them.
The question is: How many motorists were conned that day? And why is the ZRP adamant that it will not stop mounting roadblocks?
Or are they waiting for President Robert Mugabe to say something before these roadblocks are stopped?
This is ridiculous.