16 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Roadblock Cash Drama - Cop Kills Self

A POLICE sergeant based at Mazowe Police Station was on Monday found dead in a suspected case of suicide after he failed to account for cash recovered from his car at a roadblock along Harare-Bindura highway during a spot-check by one of his superiors.

The spot-check was conducted by a senior commissioner in the force.

Information gathered by NewsDay indicates that Clarence Muza (31) was the leader at a roadblock in Mazowe along the Harare-Bindura highway with his colleagues on Sunday when the senior cop arrived and demanded to search Muza's personal car parked several metres away and discovered cash that Muza could not account for.

Traffic cops are not allowed to carry personal cash while on duty and are subjected to spot-checks by their superiors and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission in a bid to curb cases of bribery.

The incident comes a little over a week after a number of traffic police officers were reportedly arrested after a Beatrice girl found $2 000 suspected to be bribe money in a rubbish pit near the site of a roadblock they were manning.

The police officers allegedly followed the girl and recovered the loot from her parents.

Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday confirmed Muza's death saying: "A police officer who was stationed at Mazowe station and under investigation for possession of undeclared money as required by the Zimbabwe Republic Police was found dead on January 13, 2014 in Mazowe.

"Sgt Muza is suspected to have committed suicide a day after he was found with undeclared money at a roadblock site by a senior officer in a suspected corruption act.

"He knew the consequences and how hard the leadership is regarding all corruption cases hence the suspected suicide. We regret the loss of life, but, however, we do take all corruption cases seriously."

But in an interview, Sledge Muza, brother to the deceased said: "I was told that a senior officer cross-checked the ticket books and the figures were well in sync with the collected fines, but then he also found Clarence's wallet containing about $166 which was in his car.

"When asked by the senior officer why he had money in his car, Clarence is said to have indicated that it was personal money meant for his child's uniforms that he intended to buy later that day, an explanation that seemed not to have satisfied the former."

After a brief interrogation, the high ranking superior allegedly confiscated the wallet and left the scene, indicating that he would charge Muza for corruption.

"The officers proceeded with their work until late in the day. On their way back to camp, Clarence's colleagues, we are told, decided to drop off at the shops a few kilometres from the camp and my younger brother proceeded alone and when he reached the camp he is said to have taken off his uniform and driven out of the camp 'to refresh'," Sledge added.

"That was the last time he was seen alive and his phones were switched off.After a brief search, he was found dead in his car.

"Investigating officers and other witnesses told me that there were two pesticide bottles; one empty and the other half-full and a few beer bottles. He had vomited, probably due to the effects of the poison."

Sledge said soon after receiving news of Clarence's death, he received several phone calls from police officers claiming to be based in Harare who were promising to bring back Muza's wallet.

"I have been receiving calls from some police officers who want to bring back my younger brother's wallet, but as a family we have resolved that we will not accept the wallet from none other than the person who confiscated it.

"We have gone through so much pain that we need a full explanation from the senior policeman on what really happened on the fateful day. What also baffles me and others is that he was alone when he committed suicide and that raises a lot of questions whether it was really suicide," he said.

The family said what also raised suspicion in the matter was why the police were determined to return the wallet if the money was corruptly acquired.

Muza had recently been transferred from Guruve to Mazowe.

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