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Police urged to reign on corrupt officers

by Stephen Jakes
28 Nov 2023 at 14:09hrs | Views
The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) has said it is disturbed by increasing cases of retribution against whistleblowers and complainants who are exposing cases of corruption by police officers in the employ of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

In a statement dated November 24, Act SA director Obert Chinhamo said the onslaught against a Zhombe-based corruption whistleblower/reporting person by Kwekwe ZRP Traffic Section is more disturbing and demonstrates the form of punishment that whistleblowers and complainants face when they expose police corruption.

"Inaction by the management of the police, gives credence to the need for an independent body to investigate the police when they go wrong instead of asking one police officer to investigate another," he said.

Chinhamo said on the 13th of November 2023, at around 11:00 a.m, the victim who had earlier exposed corruption by the traffic arm of the police based in Kwekwe had his car keys broken into two pieces at a checkpoint at Tiger Reef turn-off, when the officers besieged him and tried to impound his motor vehicle as punishment for having reported a case of corruption against them.

He said one of the police officers tried to wrestle the car keys away from the victim which resulted in the key being broken into two pieces.

"The background of the matter is that on the 29th of August 2023, at around 9:00 a.m, the victim was stopped by police officers at a checkpoint close to Mark Burden Mine along the Gokwe-Kwekwe road. A team of two female and two male police officers from Kwekwe demanded a bribe of US$5 which the motorist initially refused to pay since he had not committed any traffic offence but ended up paying it since he was rushing to attend a funeral ceremony and did not want to delay other mourners he was carrying. The 'dirty' money was handed over to a female police officer who did not give the victim a receipt as proof of payment," he said.

Chinhamo said the victim alerted ACT-SA which resulted in the matter being forwarded to the management of the police at the Kwekwe District Head-Quarters (Kwekwe DHQ).

"A senior police officer at Kwekwe DHQ, discussed with the quartet who agreed to refund the full amount that had been extorted from the victim. The refund was directly handed over to the victim by Kwekwe DHQ. These developments infuriated the four police officers  who openly told the victim that they were going to make sure that he immediately stops driving along the Gokwe-Zhombe-Kwekwe road.  More to the point, he was banned from driving along that road," he said.

ACT SA leader noted that against these threats and victim drove his motor vehicle on the 13th of November 2023 and was stopped at a police checkpoint at Tiger Reef turn-off where some of the police officers who were forced to refund the bribe of US$5 were present.

He said one of the police officers held the car keys saying that they wanted to impound the car regardless of the vehicle being licenced, the driver having a drivers licence and not having committed any offence.  

"The wrestling that ensued resulted in the car keys being broken into two pieces. In view of this unfortunate incident, ACT-SA condemns in the strongest terms targeted retaliation against whistleblowers and reporting persons. Whistleblowers have a key role to play and they must be protected, not persecuted when they speak up. If citizens can come forward in confidence – knowing they will be heard and are safe from retaliation – they can help hold power to account for the common good," he said.

Chinhamo advised that the management of the police should have taken stern action against the police officers when the first incident of the 29th of August 2023 was reported.

"When the first report of corruption was made on the 29th of August 2023, the implicated police officers agreed to refund and the refund was facilitated by the Kwekwe DHQ. In other words, the refund was an admission of guilt. The major challenge that I see is that no further action was taken against these police officers after they had refund the dirty loot. Instead, the management of the police deployed them along the same route where there they met the same victim. The refund shouldn't have been an end in itself but disciplinary action should have been taken against the quartet," he said.

Chinhamo said fighting corruption whistleblowers and reporting persons is tantamount to fighting all juristic and non-juristic persons involved in anti-corruption.

"The latest incident is more disappointing. Just imagine being punished for fighting for a corruption-free Zimbabwe, which everyone else including the President is tirelessly fighting for. Fighting corruption whistleblowers and reporting persons is tantamount to fighting some of us whether juristic and non-juristic. This should be condemned," he said.

He said ACT-SA gets more worried when whistleblowers get such reprisals for doing good to the country.

He added that this makes it urgent that all obstacles to whistleblowing should be removed. ACT-SA demands that stern action should be taken against the police officers implicated in this matter.

"If the management of the police cannot do it, ACT-SA calls upon ZACC and other relevant authorities to intervene, taking cognizant of the fact that having a police officer to investigate another police officer accused of corruption can present several challenges and potential conflicts of interest," he said.

"When whistleblowers and reporting persons are not protected, they shun reporting corruption to the detriment of national development. In keeping thereof, ACT-SA calls upon the Kwekwe DHQ , the Police General Head-Quarters (PGHQ ) and other relevant stakeholders to investigate this matter and take corrective action. In addition, the development taking place in the police justifies the need for an Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), similar to the South African system that independently investigates complaints against the police."

Source - Byo24News