Byo residents slam police over roadblocks
Cynthia Dube, Chronicle Reporter
Bulawayo residents have once again slammed police for setting up too many roadblocks where they allegedly demand bribes to let vehicles pass.
On Wednesday, they told the officer commanding Bulawayo province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Mutamba that they were tired of persecution by the police.
Senior Asst Comm Mutamba was officially opening New Magwegwe Police Station, which was built with input from residents.
Speaking during the event, district Crime Consultative Community (CCC) Acting Chairman Mr Zephania Moyo said kombi drivers must refuse to pay money at roadblocks.
“We are not happy with the conduct of the traffic police. If you check, there are more than five road blocks on the 12 kilometre stretch along Luveve Road. Police at each roadblock want kombi drivers to pay between $3 and $5. I wonder how much they spend on roadblocks per day. Kombi drivers must stop bribing police officers. It is better if they take them to police station rather than lose money for no reason,” said Mr Moyo.
He said police officers must put the interest of members of the public first.
Senior Asst Comm Mutamba said members of the public also have a duty to report corrupt police officers.
“I would like to thank all New Magwegwe residents for contributing towards building this station. All of you are police officers. Youths, you have a duty to make Magwegwe a crime-free area. All of us here have an obligation to report corrupt police officers,” he said.
He said they are looking forward to building Cowdray Park and Tshabalala police stations.
There has been a countrywide outcry over police roadblocks, which are said to be retarding economic development.
More than 50 percent of tourists interviewed during a recent Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (Zimstat) survey said they felt harassed by heavy police presence on roads.
Delegates attending last year’s Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) congress rapped police for mounting a chain of roadblocks, saying this affected the ease of doing business.
Meanwhile, police in the city have urged members of the public to assist them in identifying hit-and-run drivers, following the increase in cases where motorists flee from accident scenes.
Acting Bulawayo Provincial police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Abednico Ncube said witnesses must take down registration numbers of the vehicles that knock people down.
“We are really worried about the increase in the number of hit-and-run accidents. On Saturday last week at around 6PM, there is a man who was knocked down by a Honda Fit along Luveve Road, near Noczim Garage and he died upon admission to Mpilo Central Hospital. On Monday this week, there is a cyclist who died on the spot after he was hit by a white Sprinter which drove away from the scene without assisting the victim. There are many cases of hit-and-run accidents that we have received within the month of May, “said Asst Insp Ncube.
“The worst part is all the victims died. It’s even difficult to identify them because they wouldn’t be having identification particulars.
There are four unidentified bodies at Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospital (UBH) mortuaries. One of the bodies is from a hit-and-run incident that occurred in December 2016.”
Asst Insp Ncube said members of the public must stop boarding vehicles which have hidden number plates because they are involved in a majority of hit-and-run accidents.
Touts usually cover vehicles’ registration numbers when picking or dropping passengers at undesignated points to prevent police from identifying their vehicles.
“If they lose customers, they won’t pirate. Drivers who witness hit-and-run accidents should report to the police within 24 hours. I would also like to urge other motorists to write down the registration numbers of these vehicles and submit them to police stations so that we can do a follow up and arrest their drivers. If the licence plates have been covered, the address of the owner that is usually printed on the side of a public transport vehicle can be used,” he said.