THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has reportedly deployed crack anti-corruption teams at every police station countrywide as the force moves a gear up in fighting corrupt tendencies among its rank and file.
NQOBILE BHEBHE/RICHARD MUPONDE/NONHLANHLA SIBANDA
The dispatch follows growing calls on Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to weed the force of corruption rather than the tradition of transferring officers fingered in graft to remote locations. Police sources said communication would soon be dispatched to all stations informing them of the latest development.
“What we heard was that teams are being assembled for deployment countrywide. The scope of the anti-corruption teams is to gather any evidence of possible corrupt activities,” said the source.
“They could range from activities taking place within stations and outside. Lifestyle audits will be conducted and that has caused panic among some officers as those who were in the habit of soliciting bribes thought they could avoid censure.
“There are also fears that officers may start selling out on flimsy allegations to settle personal scores,” the source said.
National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi yesterday said the police do not comment on operational issues in the media.
Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi could neither confirm nor deny the new development, but also said he does not discuss operational issues with the Press.
“I don’t discuss operational issues with newspapers,” he said .
“This is a security ministry. If I tell you, what do you want to do? You want to counter that?”
Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba recently said the force had introduced a raft of radical “razor edge” internal disciplinary measures, supervisory and monitoring mechanisms to counter acts of misconduct within the police force.
Some cops were arrested for soliciting a bribe from a long distance bus crew at Entumbane Bus Terminus last week on Wednesday.
The cops were arrested by plain clothes officers suspected to be from the anti-corruption unit.
A witness told Southern Eye that about 10 plain clothes officers boarded the bus and paid for the trip like other passengers.
As the bus was leaving, the conductor then went to the uniformed cops outside and handed them a bribe they had seemingly been waiting for and the plain clothes officers immediately pounced on their rogue colleagues, arrested them and called in some officers to book them in.
The plain clothes officers continued the journey on the bus and arrested some cops at a roadblock along the Victoria Falls Road just near the Nyamandlovu turnoff using the same modus operandi.
A bus driver at the Entumbane Complex terminus Themba Ndlovu expressed relief at the deployment of anti-corruption officers saying it would see them conducting their jobs without having to set aside money for paying for a “pass” at every roadblock.
Ndlovu said each bus has to pay $10 at every police checkpoint for it to proceed with its journey despite it being roadworthy.
He said this translated to about $200 from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls as they normally encountered about 20 check points, which was outrageous.
“But there has been a reduction in roadblocks since last Wednesday when those plain clothes officers arrested their colleagues at roadblocks on the Victoria Falls route,” Ndlovu said.
Bus Operators’ Association chairperson Patrick Dube said they had held meetings with senior police officers where it was agreed that bus crews should refuse to pay bribes to traffic cops.
“I am happy that the police now seem committed to solving this problem by these unscrupulous officers.
“It is not only the traffic police at fault as I believe that bus operators initiated this corrupt act by offering bribes and it just became a way of doing things,” he said.
“Bus operators in competition give the police money willingly so that the traffic police manning a particular roadblock can impound a competitor’s bus while they gain mileage and get more customers along the way.You may try to outsmart your competitor while creating a long term problem.”
Last week, a policewoman manning a roadblock in Gweru allegedly attempted to swallow a $10 note after the anti-corruption officers swooped on her and her colleagues who were also arrested. Last month, Assistant Commissioner Gideon Baloyi was jailed for an effective nine months in prison by a Harare magistrate for indiscipline under the Police Act.
This came after 33 traffic officers from Avondale Police Station in Harare were transferred to other bases allegedly because of “intolerable corruption levels” in January.
The officer-in-charge was also transferred. The rot at the police station came to light when one of the accused policemen solicited a $50 bribe from a motorist.