traffic cops’ corruption: Fifth suspect in the dock
Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
A fifth suspect believed to be part of a gang allegedly used by rogue traffic police officers in Harare to collect bribes from commuter omnibus crews has appeared in court charged with extortion. Gift Chiwambutsa (30) of Munyuki in Epworth appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe last Thursday.
Pardon Chikowe (26), Simbarashe Siringwani (34), Robson Sandinga (37) and Byron Konde (26) appeared in court on similar charges a day earlier.
It is alleged that the police officers would liaise with commuter omnibus rank marshals to collect cash from kombi crews before feeding the registration numbers of compliant drivers onto phones of police officers at roadblocks.
Those who had paid between US$4 and US$12 daily would then have easy passage at police controlled roadblocks, it is alleged.
Prosecutor Ms Sharon Mashavira alleged that between March 10 and 11 at Overspill bus terminus, Chiwambutsa, also known as “Keda” in that area, collected US$5 each from 36 commuter omnibus drivers plying Mbare-Epworth route.
It is alleged that Chiwambutsa surrendered US$180 and the list of vehicle registration numbers to police officers which they would use to allow the vehicles to pass.
On March 12, 2013 at around 7.45am, Chiwambutsa allegedly collected US$190 from 37 commuter omnibuses plying the same route and made a list of their license plate numbers on a paper.
A police informant exposed the alleged scam leading to Chiwambutsa’s arrest.
Police officers found US$190 and the list of 37 vehicle registration numbers on him.
On interrogation, Chiwambutsa allegedly admitted to sending the list to a number said to belong to a police officer.