Bulawayo Bureau — POLICE have urged members of the public to ignore roadblocks manned by less than three police officers as they are illegal. This came out at a traffic police anti-corruption drive held in Bulawayo on Thursday.
Responding to questions from stakeholders, the national Deputy Officer Commanding Traffic, Assistant Commissioner Kenny Mthombeni, said officers bent on corruption set up such illegal roadblocks.
"When you see two officers at check points or a police officer trying to enforce traffic regulations in a private vehicle, disobey their instructions and report them to their commanding officer," said Asst Comm Mthombeni.
He said corruption was rife in both the public and private sector, adding that only a collective effort by stakeholders could put an end to it.
Asst Comm Mthombeni urged members of the public to supply police with details of commuter omnibuses that allegedly flouted traffic regulations because they were owned by police officers.
"We have heard of such vehicles. We have heard that they use undesignated pick up points and some are without the necessary documents. Send information to us about them and I assure you the Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri will take measures and you will see the officers on the street," he said to applause from the stakeholders.
Asst Comm Mthombeni said police fines only went up to US$20 and if any officer asked for more, it would be extortion.
"Our fines are between US$5 and US$20. Anything above that would be done to induce bribery. If anyone is caught doing that, we will need to refund the motorist and the money will come from the officer's salary," he said.
The national Deputy Officer Commanding Traffic said it was wrong for police to continue issuing a ticket for the same offence at different roadblocks on a single trip.
"If you are ticketed the first time, at the next roadblock, you should be stopped and taken to court. It is also police policy that when a vehicle is stopped at a roadblock, officers inspect the vehicle and not the driver. There is therefore no need for the driver to leave the vehicle and approach the police. If this happens, corruption may be taking place," said Asst Comm Mthombeni.
He instructed the Bulawayo traffic department to remove all unregistered vehicles from the road, as they were taking business away from registered operators.
Asst Comm Mthombeni said police and the public should be guided by Exodus 23 verse 8, which reads; "And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right,"
Speaking at the same event, the deputy manager of the Vehicle Inspection Depot (VID) in Bulawayo, Mr Exevier Dzimba, said about 75 percent of the buses that have been impounded by his department in the city since 15 December, were driven by unlicensed drivers and most of them had no brakes.
He said the statistics showed the level of corruption at the VID and police roadblocks.
"To show that Zimbabwe is really dirty, after impounding the vehicles, people from high up, including politicians start calling and asking us to release the vehicles," said Mr Dzimba.
Speaking after the event, Mr Dzimba said the VID always requested written instructions from anyone making such a request and the people would back down.
The Bulawayo City Council's head of traffic and security, Retired Colonel Tobias Dube, said one out of three vehicles in the city had outstanding traffic tickets.
He said the city practiced zero tolerance towards corruption and had stopped officers from accepting fines that were not paid at the Revenue Hall.
The regional Traffic Safety Manager for the Southern Region, Miss Barbara Mpofu said employers should ensure that their drivers had all the required documents and their vehicles were fit for the road to avoid the need to pay bribes.
Other stakeholders, who attended the event included members of the public, public transport associations, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe and senior police officers in the province.