THREE junior police officers from Mutare yesterday appeared in court on allegations of demanding a US$2 000 bribe for them to avoid impounding a truck carrying 142 bales of smuggled second hand clothes that they had intercepted along Vumba Road and to also release half of the bales.
They were supposed to have seized both truck and all the bales as evidence and probable forfeiture by the court and to have arrested the truck owner on smuggling charges.
Detective Assistant Inspector Reason Aroveshita and Detective sergeants Kurai Mushwete and Collen Chidhakwa appeared at the Harare magistrates court charged with criminal abuse of office.
They were not asked to plead to the charges when they appeared before regional magistrate Esthere Chivasa, who remanded them in custody to today for their bail applications.
Prosecutor Mr George Manokore, appearing with Ms Sheillah Mupindu, said on Monday last week at around 1am the trio stopped a man driving a UD truck loaded with smuggled bales of clothes along Vumba Road.
The driver fled from the scene, leaving the truck with the three cops.
The cops called the owner of the truck, Edward Muhamba, who went to the scene and "sweet-talked" the three to give him some of the bales back and ensure that his truck was not seized by Zimra.
The three allegedly then asked Muhamba to pay them US$2 000 to release the truck.
Muhamba drove the truck to his garage while the trio followed in a Mazda BT50.
At the garage, the court heard, 70 bales were off-loaded and Muhamba instructed his driver to take the truck to Mutare Central Police Station while he made arrangements to pay the US$2 000.
Allegations are that the three cops escorted the truck to Vumba Service Station where they wanted to wait for Muhamba while he was looking for the US$2 000.
Muhamba later went to the service station where he paid US$1 500 to Mushwete for making sure the truck was not seized by Zimra and US$500 for the bales off-loaded at his garage. After the transaction, the truck was driven to Mutare Central police station.
It is said the trio failed to execute their duties by not arresting Muhamba and impounding the truck for its involvement in smuggling of goods.