Harare City Council chief traffic officer Mr Martin Chimombe has been accused of releasing, without following procedures, some of the vehicles impounded after their drivers allegedly violated the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
Investigations have since been completed with a report tabled but ‘conflicted’ top council bosses are reluctant to act on it.
While no accusations of any corrupt activity have been made, there is doubt in some circles that Mr Chimombe just released vehicles without charge because he felt sorry for owners, especially as he did not follow the procedures.
The report wants Mr Chimombe to appear before a disciplinary hearing for exercising powers outside those vested in his office, for failure to perform his duties in an exemplary manner, for failure to protect council from suffering prejudice as a result of the activities of skimming crooks, and for failure to collect the usual storage charges so allowing the council to suffer a revenue loss.
Allegations are that between March 30 and April 11 2020, a total of 56 vehicles were impounded and taken to the municipal central stores compound yard and were supposed to be released after 21 days of the first national lockdown period.
According to the leaked report, no tickets were supposed to be issued, but during sampling it was realised that 45 vehicles were released unconditionally by Mr Chimombe.
“The chief traffic officer Mr Chimombe HM No 105600 signed 19 self-designed unconditional release forms and released the vehicles without the knowledge of his superior, head of public safety Mr Negion Moyo,” reads the report.
“Chief Superintendent John Makarudze HM No 405043 signed 25 of the same unconditional release forms and released the vehicles on the authority of the Chief Traffic Officer.”
According to the report, Superintendent Gauti Abishayi HM No 211163 signed one unconditional release form and released vehicle AFA 9361 on April 5, 2020 on the authority of Chief Supt Makarudze.
Among the vehicles released include ACF 0823, AEB 5526, ADZ 1342, A Sprinter ADZ 4953 and AAI 6650.
“The head public safety was at work, but the Chief Operating Officer wilfully disregarded seeking authority first on 45 vehicles released, thereby usurping the powers of the head of public safety,” reads the report.
“The motive for usurping the powers of the head of public safety is best known to the actors.”
Allegations are that before authorising the release of the vehicles, using the authority which was not vested in his office, the Chief Traffic Officer did not exercise due diligence in the execution of duties by failing to carry out checks or verifications on the request for release which were referred to them for consideration by the police.
Mr Chimombe also stands accused of facilitating the release of five vehicles AEO 2964, AEB 0861, AAI 6650, ACXS 9355 and ADE 4231 for which there was no request for release from Zimbabwe Republic Police.
They were released with no proof attached of the alleged forgotten travelling documents or copy of the admission of guilt fine and no basis for realising them without exercising due diligence.
“Vehicles were thus released based on information that had been fabricated and manipulated to create circumstances that would make it possible to release the vehicles unconditionally,” reads the report.
“The reasons written on the unconditional release forms are different from the reasons which were given to the impounding officers by the motorists upon arrest. Had due diligence been exercised the falsified information could have been detected.”