CSO designs graft probe tracker

ACT-SA director Obert Chinhamo

A CIVIC society organisation, Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA), has introduced Corruption Investigations and Prosecution Tracker, which in its latest exposé released details of an alleged corruption case involving officers at Redcliff Police Station, Midlands province.

The tracker was designed to provide the management of police, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and other stakeholders with data and insights needed to monitor progress in the fight against corruption.

In an interview, ACT-SA director Obert Chinhamo yesterday told Southern Eye that the tracker will also be used to advocate for stronger anti-corruption measures.

Chinhamo said the tracker recently exposed three policemen who allegedly demanded bribes from business operators at Mutegude shopping centre in Simbi Park.

He said on June 14 this year, the three policemen were monitored as they allegedly moved door-to-door soliciting for bribes from businesses operating without licences.

“Upon receipt of the complaint, ACT-SA lodged a complaint with the officer-in-charge of Redcliff Police Station. ACT-SA believes that the reporting of a corruption case is not an end in itself, hence it introduced Corruption Investigations and Prosecution Tracker to monitor and analyse progress thereof, vis-à-vis the investigations of allegations and where possible prosecution of culprits if they are found to have a case to answer,” ACT-SA said in a report.

“ACT-SA monitors whether there would be disciplinary action taken against the suspects. In the context of the case of police details at Redcliff Police Station who allegedly solicited for bribes, ACT-SA tracks investigations and prosecution progress and whether they returned the money allegedly solicited from the said businesspersons in Redcliff.”

It alleged that they collected bribes ranging from US$10 to US$20 three times a month.

“The givers of the bribes were allegedly not given receipts, which means that the money collected may have been pocketed for personal gain,” the report read.

The report said they were advised that a deputy OIC had been tasked to visit the area to record statements from witnesses.

“The officer-in-charge informed an ACT-SA official that his office wanted telephone numbers of the victims for arrangements to be made to enable the police to visit the area and record statements,” the report said.

On the day, the report added, ACT-SA discussed with the deputy OIC and arrangements were made to visit the area to record statements and the victims were taken to the station to record the statements.

However, according to the report, one of the victims complained that he was intimidated and asked to explain why he wanted to take action against the police.

The report further stated that on June 22, the officers went to the same shopping centre targeting the individuals who had exposed them.

“It is alleged that they were threatened, arrested and one of them handcuffed as if he had committed a serious criminal offence.

“They were frog-marched to Redcliff Police Station three kilometres from the shopping centre. Six people were arrested, including a breastfeeding woman, three men who sell gas, one woman who cooks and sells sadza and chips as well as another one who sells groceries,” the report read.

The report said the impression given by this incident was that reporting police officers made whistleblowers vulnerable, raising the question of whether it is effective for one policeman to investigate another.

“It should be considered as wrong for a police officer to investigate a close colleague as this can create conflict of interest and compromise the integrity of the investigation. There is a risk of bias and favouritism, which can undermine the credibility of the investigation and the outcome,” the report stated.

ACT-SA added that the action of the police could allow wrongdoing to go unchecked and perpetuate a culture of corruption.

It called for protection and support for whistleblowers to promote transparency, accountability, and the rule of law.

“It is against this background that the officer-in-charge of Redcliff Police Station, the Kwekwe Dispol, the Midlands Propol, the Commissioner General of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs are urged to take corrective action.

“Corrective action is important since the perception of bias can erode public trust in law enforcement and the justice system. It is essential that investigations in this case against the three police officers be conducted impartially to ensure justice is served and the public's confidence in the system is maintained,” the report said.

ACT-SA said reprisals against witnesses and whistleblowers should have been avoided to motivate communities to report and take action against corruption.

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