Bogus municipal police officers are on the rampage in Harare’s Central Business District, extorting money from unsuspecting street vendors.
By Christopher Mahove
Harare Metropolitan Police Chief Inspector, Rachel Mawoyo, told a meeting of vendors and council officials in Harare on Thursday that her office was aware that there were bogus municipal police who were confiscating goods and extorting money from vendors in the city.
She said council was on the hunt for the suspects. Mawoyo said those approached by anyone claiming to be from the municipal police department should demand identification before surrendering their goods and money.
“We know that there are bogus police officers on the sprawl, some of them that we know are former employees who were dismissed from work a long time ago. We are looking for them and we will get them arrested,” she said.
Mawoyo said any vendor approached by anyone they suspected to be a bogus officer should phone her office immediately for assistance.
“If anyone approaches you and you are not sure about them, call our national control centre and we will deploy our officers immediately,” she said.
The vendors had complained during the meeting that they were not finding their confiscated goods when they followed to the municipal offices to pay their fines.
They said some corrupt officers were also confiscating their goods and giving them to their “runners” who would then sell the items on their behalf.
Mawoyo said municipal officials who were engaged in such acts risked being arrested and losing their jobs.
“We do not send people out there to come and steal from you. It is unfortunate but we don’t expect that kind of behaviour from our officers, especially women officers who know the pains of looking after families,” she said.
Mawoyo said confiscated perishables were supposed to be forwarded to the Zimbabwe Republic Police Licensing Department who would either destroy or auction them, adding that the law on perishables did not allow council to destroy what would have been confiscated.
Vendors confirmed at the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) organised meeting that they knew of Municipal police officers who had multiple vending stalls and enjoyed strategic immunity from the police.
“This patrimonial system has hit hard those that do not have their own patrons to protect them,” CHRA said.