(Main picture illustrative: Officers at a roadblock)

Who will police the police?

This is the question that a 28-year old Kwekwe man who feels robbed by officers stationed at Kwekwe Central Police Station was left asking after he was reportedly fleeced of phone accessories worth over US$140 by the same professionals expected to protect the Zimbabwean citizenry.

Initially, Mafios Simukai of Amaveni high density suburb in the Midlands mining town had his travelling bag full of various mobile phone accessories crookedly confiscated by some officers who were on patrol on Friday 30 July, 2021.

The illegally seized travelling bag consisted of 150 tampered glasses with a market value of US$300 and cellular phone pouches valued US$140.

“It took more than two weeks for me to recover my bag as the concerned cops were inexplicably dithering on the issue of returning it back,” Simukai told Zwnews in an interview this week.

“I persistently visited the police station inquiring about my accessories but they kept frustrating me. They (the police) could neither arrest nor press charges against me until I decided to write a letter of complaint addressed to the Officer-in-charge and also copied to the Dispol”, he said.

Added Simukai:

“It was after I penned the letter of complaint that the bag containing my items was returned. Upon the bag’s return, 18 pouches valued at US$72 and 35 tampered glasses with a market value of US$70 were missing. No documentation authenticating the return of my items was done. The process was so informal and the concerned officers said they were going to ‘do something’ with the missing accessories. Nothing has happened to this day”.

Zwnews is in possession of the letter Simukai wrote to the O.I.C of Kwekwe Central.

“Circumstances surrounding the aforementioned grievances are that on the date (and time) stated herein, Friday 30 July 2021, at around 1330hrs, I was approached by three plain-cloth police details who demanded that I hand over the bag that I was carrying in my bag for a search. This occured in the CBD close to SPAR Supermarket,” wrote Simukai in the letter dated 7 August, 2021.

“The (police officers) displayed, methinks, unprofessional levels of policing by accusing me of carrying drugs in my bag… The consignment was destined for Rutendo suburb in Redcliff for safekeeping in a warehouse for my biological sister’s newly opened shop that deals in phone accessories,” he said.

Added Simukai:

“Quite astonishingly, after failing to find what they were looking for, the officers took my bag (before proceeding) to a shop that sells the interdicted skin lightening creams at PG Complex opposite TM Pick ‘n’ Pay in the CBD. After some thirty minutes or so, the three officers returned back and to my relief, one of them identified as MAGARISANO surrendered the bag back to me”.

“Since I wanted to meet someone at the main terminus, I then left my weighty travelling bag in the custody of a colleague who operates in the city centre. However, much to my chagrin, I was told that the same officer had taken my bag once again and that he had (left a message saying) the owner of the bag must follow them to Kwekwe Central”.

“When I made a follow-up, I couldn’t find the officers at the station and I was also told to return to Kwekwe Central on a Monday. I must also say that the frustration that I received from the officers at Kwekwe Central… smacks of downright unprofessionalism. Not once, but twice an officer who heads the Operations Department at the station warned me against coming to Kwekwe Central with the same issue and using the vernacular Shona language, he said ‘Iwe mupfana ukaramba uchiuya kuno ndave kuzokurova manje’. Sensing that I was about to lose my hard-earned accessories, I ended up knocking on your office and as you might be aware, we failed to find the responsible officer as he was said to be out of the office,” he wrote.

“While I must acknowledge that my trust in the police remains unchanged, the truth of the matter is that I now feel that I am being robbed by the same people who have an obligation to protect us from the robbers. Furthermore, MAGARISANO told me that my items were now being auctioned. Yet, I haven’t been arrested as is expected to those who have committed criminal offences. I now smell a stinking rat and my personal opinion is that the officers in question took advantage of me and abused the trust we have on them by abusing the same power on defenceless citizens like myself”, said Simukai.

This development comes after Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday implored the ZRP to flush out and deal with corrupt officers within its force.

Speaking when he commissioned vehicles for use by the ZRP, Mnangagwa urged the police force to deal with corrupt police officials without fear or favour.

“Your own house must be above reproach, under the Second Republic, effective policing must be rooted in integrity, commitment to duty, professionalism, accountability, transparency, loyalty and patriotism,” he said.

Mnangagwa’s sentiments come at the time members of police have been implicated in corrupt deals.

Some police officers, especially in the traffic section stand accused of being bribe takers on the roads.

Efforts to get a comment from the Midlands provincial police spokesperson Emmanuel Mahoko were not fruitful during the time of publishing early Saturday morning.