Freeman Razemba and Fidelis Munyoro—
Government has written to the police granting the force the nod to use spikes and guns to stop vehicles only in extreme cases of criminality, but ordered the implementation of an earlier instruction to reduce the number of roadblocks. Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said yesterday that he wrote to Police Commissioner-General Dr Augustine Chihuri with the instructions following complaints from the public.
“The ministry received several reports concerning roadblocks which were being said to be very close to each other,” he said.
“People were saying roadblocks should be well spaced. As a ministry, we told Dr Chihuri and his team to rationalise their roadblocks. For example, in Epworth as a district, there should be at least two roadblocks that are at distances that are reasonable.
“So, we wrote a letter to the police asking them to rationalise that. That is what we asked them to do.”
Dr Chombo said the use of spikes came into effect after several police officers were run over by kombi drivers trying to evade roadblocks.
“However, what we are saying now is that these roadblocks (rationalised ones) should have spikes,” he said.
“Both guns and spikes should only be used in extreme cases at these roadblocks and that is the advice given to the police by the Government.
Dr Chombo said they had noted that there were some places, especially in rural areas, where spikes were unnecessary.
“In rural areas, no one can run away from the police and it is not necessary to use spikes in such areas,” he said. “There are areas that they should be used when necessary and not everywhere.”
Dr Chombo warned motorists against driving in a way that would endanger passengers and police officers.
Police chief spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she would be able to give finer details on the issue next week.
“It is unfortunate that I cannot give you the details now,” she said.
“Need to verify first. I will give you the details on Monday next week after making inquiries.”
Over 50 percent of tourists interviewed during a recent Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency survey said they felt harassed by heavy police presence on the roads.
A survey conducted by The Herald in Harare revealed that police officers were still using spikes, especially on routes plied by commuter omnibuses.
This was despite earlier calls from some Government officials that the spikes should be used only at roadblocks, as a measure to ensure motorists comply with instructions to stop.
Last month, police said throwing spikes at moving vehicles was illegal and police officers found engaging in such practices would be dealt with accordingly.
According to the police, spikes should only be placed in front of vehicles when police officers suspect that the driver might drive away.