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Citizens bemoan the influx of bogus police officers during the lockdown

Women talk to a ZRP officer at a roadblock Picture by Open Parly

By Desire Tshuma 

Many people in Harare since the inception of the 30-day COVID-19 lockdown was announced by the Vice President and the Minister of Health and Child Care Hon Constantino Chiwenga, have been complaining against some serving and bogus police officers whom they accuse of robbing them.

As the Covid 19 infections and deaths rise, the government through the Minister of Health and Child Care who is also the Vice President of Zimbabwe Dr. Constantino Chiwenga announced a 30-day lockdown which started on 5 January 2021. The government announced the conditions of the lockdown that includes a curfew which starts from 6 pm to 6 am and it also named the essential services.

It announced the sectors and services which are considered critical to work during the 30-day lockdown. By so doing, the government is enforcing the lockdown rules through the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe National army who man roadblocks along the highways and roads within the cities.

Concerns have been raised by many people against the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers who allegedly demand bribes from citizens including those who would be going to the shops within a 5 km radius of their homes.

On Friday evening a journalist (name withheld) was also arrested at Fourth Street (now Simon Muzenda) bus terminus whom they falsely accused of improperly wearing a face mask. Upon arrest, the ZRP officers pretended to take him to Harare Central Police station.

Along the way, they asked him to pay US$5 bribery so that they could let him go. The journalist phoned the ZRP spokesperson for clarification upon which he was quickly released. 

A security guard who works at Guest Cock Pit bar who spoke anonymously said on Saturday morning a group of seven people including two clad with police uniforms walked into his workplace without even notifying him of their agenda.

”Vaviri chete ndivo vange vakapfeka police uniform vashanu vange vasina kupfeka hembe dzechipurisa. Vakangosvika vaka jamba durawall havana kundiudza zvavakavinga (Out of the seven, only two were wearing police uniforms. They jumped in through the dura-wall without stating their intentions) ” said a security detail at Guest Bar and Lodge in Harare CBD.

“On Tuesday when the lockdown started, the driver of a Zupco bus told us at the Chitungwiza rank that all those who wish to travel to Harare should put aside 50 bond notes or US$1 to surrender to the police officers manning roadblocks to avoid being sent back home. When we reached the police roadblock near Coca Cola, we were told to disembark and those with no work letters paid the police in front of our eyes. We then proceeded to Harare Central Business District on foot,” said another woman who identified herself as Rumbidzai

The Covid 19  pandemic has claimed millions globally and Zimbabwe had by 11 January 2021 recorded 978 new cases and 24 deaths while the overall number of cases stood at 21 477  while 12 582 had recovered with 507 deaths.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende