The corrupt tendencies of members of the police force during the current Covid-19 lockdown were brought to the surface after seven police officers from Gweru were exposed for extorting- not only cash and fuel- but also opaque beer (masese) and cane spirits (chapomba) from bottle store and shop operators who had reportedly violated lockdown regulations in and around the Midlands capital.
The seven accused constables who are all stationed at Gweru Rural Police Station were arrested following a tip-off on Monday over their criminal spree where they allegedly solicited and accepted bribes from nine shop proprietors and bottle store operators between April 25 and May 1, 2020.
After their legally interdicted operations, the seven who include Constables Joyful Magumise (35), Mugwagwa Magumise (42), Goodhope Chitimbe (31), David Mandimutsira, Bruce Chikwanda, Freddy Mahupere (all 35), Tonderai Gomana (39), shared their loot.
Appearing before Gweru Provincial Magistrate Tayengwa Sangster for bribery charges yesterday, the rogue officers were remanded out of custody to June 18 on $3 000 bail each.
Concerned by the fact that the officers are still reporting for duty when they were facing a criminal matter, the magistrate ordered the accused seven to reside at their given addresses and not to interfere with state witnesses..
“Police officers working in the jurisdiction where complainants are doing business and continue to be, puts (sic) some doubts in terms of justice delivery in the witnesses’ eyes. Even if they see them patrolling, it leaves questions on the intention of the employer and I’m not sure what is happening in terms of their suspension,” Sangster said.
Prosecuting, Margret Mukucha told the court that she hoped that police investigations would have been complete by the next time they are expected to reappear in court.
“Police investigations are underway and we hope by the next remand date they will be complete,” she said.
The court heard that on April 25, the accused persons drove to Shamrock Mine in Lower Gweru where they approached Khumbulani Sibanda who was operating without a liquor licence.
To spare the unlicensed bottle store operator of arest, they allegedly took 16 cases of Chibuku Super and four cases of cane spirits.
The complainant then offered the corrupt constables $1 000, at the instigation of Cst Mugwagwa Magumise, for them to return the confiscated opaque beer and cases of cane spirits.
Cst Magumise further told Ngwenya that they had used Government fuel to raid his shop and asked him to replace it or else they were going to confiscate 200 litres of diesel he was keeping in his shop.
He allegedly gave them a further $200 and 20 litres of diesel before they left.
They reportedly used the same modus operandi to raid Kitchenburg Farm on April 28 in the Matobo area of Gweru, where they allegedly approached Mrs Alice Chokora who operates a shop and liquor store.
Chokora bribed them with $1 000 to evade looming apprehension.
On May 1, around 2pm, the officers approached Dumoluhle Ngwenya at Ranch Farm in Lower Gweru and confiscated his beer ythat of other operators for allegedly selling beer during the lockdown epoch.
They allegedly ordered him to collect $150 cash from seven operators totalling $1 050 before they went away.

State Media
Additional Reporting: Zwnews