8 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Touts, Rank Marshals Resurface At City Ranks

Touts and rank marshals have resurfaced at some city ranks barely four months after a clean-up exercise that saw over 500 of them arrested. The marshals, who are mainly visible during the peak hours, are believed to be the brains behind the sprouting of undesignated bus stops within the city.

An investigation by The Herald indicates that when it is daylight the commuter omnibuses operate freely without any disturbances or threats from the touts.

The chaos is noticeable early in the morning and in the evening during peak hours.

Trevor Mesa, an omnibus driver plying City-Mabvuku, said rank marshals come during the evening.

He said they were now using dangerous weapons if one fails to hand over the US$2 they demand.

"Rank marshals have come to the ranks when it's dark and during peak hours. They know police officers will be away and they demand US$2. They also threaten us with unspecified punishment," he said.

Christine Chimusoro (22), a regular passenger from Mabvuku who says she usually boards the omnibuses back home around 6pm, confirmed the return of the touts. "Touts are back and I have seen some demanding cash from a driver and they even threatened to drag him out of the vehicle," she said.

Harare provincial spokesperson Tadious Chibanda said they had received some reports about the return of the touts and rank marshals.

"We are receiving reports that touts are coming back late in the evening.

"Whoever encounters them must alert the police officers on the ground," he said. Last year rank marshals assaulted two soldiers in uniform at the Charge Office rank after they came to rescue of commuters who were being harassed.

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