Road extortion must end

YESTERDAY this newspaper was inundated with complaints from members of the public that Bulawayo traffic police now have a penchant of spot fining private motorists for carrying passengers in their vehicles, accusing them of pirating.

Traffic officers at a Khami Road roadblock are reported to have stated that private motorists have no right to carry passengers, but instead should let them jump onto public transport vehicles such as kombis and buses.

One motorist, who was rushing to work with four friends, was stopped at the roadblock and fined $15. A brief description of the offence on the admission of guilt ticket read: “No operators’ licence.”

While debate on the legality of the police to demand spot fines on offending motorists ensues, targeting innocent and private motorists giving a helping hand to long-suffering fellow citizens is a scam which needs to be investigated.

Bulawayo law enforcement agents along Khami Road appear to be taking advantage of citizens during the morning rush hour to instil fear by threatening to seize their cars and park them at ZRP Traffic West.

Questions are being asked if it is now illegal for private motorists to give relatives, friends and even neighbours lifts, particularly at a time when citizens are battling to raise bus fares.

Is it now a crime to share one’s vehicle to and from work with any member of the public? Or is this a new rake to self enrich law-enforcement agents?  Is this now a police State?

It has to be noted that traffic police might be failing to find fault with a motorist’s vehicle. Remember most vehicles have renewed their insurances and car radio licences leaving cops with little options. They try hard to find a traffic offence such as the current targeting of private motorists carrying passengers, at times at no cost.

We are aware some of the cops manning roadblocks along the city’s major roads have stakes in the local taxi industry and want to ensure that they maximise profits by cracking down on innocent and generous motorists giving rides to colleagues to and from work.

These are nothing but sadists abusing their uniforms to continue inflicting pain in the hearts of long-suffering citizens battling a myriad of economic ills.

Their actions smack of desperation and unprecedented institutionalised victimisation and extortion. Instead of preventing crime, traffic cops have made bullying of motorists a daily hobby.

This official fanaticism on the roads should surely come to an end as citizens would continue to view traffic cops as enemies of the people.

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