Bad apples soiling ZRP image
WE are worried about a growing trend of indiscipline within the Zimbabwe Republic Police and caution that unless this cancer is brought to an abrupt end, our police force is doomed. Our concern stems from a proliferation of reports of unbecoming behaviour exhibited by some members of the ZRP who are soiling the image and reputation of our men and women in uniform. Already, the police are facing increasing hostility from members of the public due to a growing perception out there that they’re the “enemy” but we contend that this is due to the conduct of a few rogue elements.
The ZRP has a reputation for being one of the most efficient and disciplined forces on the African continent and this has even been acknowledged by the United Nations which continues to enlist its services in peace keeping missions in Africa and other hotspots in the world.
Its client service charter says it is a peopleoriented police service provider that seeks to maintain law and order towards the socioeconomic development of the people. The ZRP also has a lofty vision of being the best police service provider by 2020. We support this vision and are proud of its record hence our plea to the police hierarchy to rein in errant cops who continue to make headlines for the wrong reasons.
Corruption is a serious national problem but when it’s perpetrated by the very same people who are supposed to enforce the country’s laws and maintain law and order, then the war is lost even before it’s begun. We acknowledge and welcome the decision by police commanders to reduce the number of roadblocks in the country following a fierce public outcry over their proliferation. This was a masterstroke move and one which resonated with the majority of people in Zimbabwe because the roadblocks had become a menace as they were being used by rogue cops to extort money from motorists.
However, despite this brilliant decision, reports continue to filter through of police officers caught on the wrong side of the law. Recently, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Obedingwa Mguni, literally took matters into his own hands when he apprehended black market fuel dealers who had passed through a number of roadblocks between Plumtree and Bulawayo with their contraband which was destined for sale in the city.
The Deputy Minister was astounded that the smugglers, who buy the fuel in Botswana, had managed to pass through two roadblocks with about 2,000 litres of petrol without being arrested raising fears that they had bribed their way through the checkpoints. Chief Nyangazonke of Kezi in Matobo District also recently slammed some police officers in his area for allegedly drinking alcohol with locals while on duty saying their conduct is contributing to an increase in violent crimes in the area. The chief said some police officers were fuelling lawlessness and urged their superiors to investigate their conduct.
“We’ve incidents where the police are drinking beer with members of the public while they’re on duty. This has resulted in the police being disrespected by the locals and in light of the stabbing incidents occurring in Kezi, it won’t be long before we witness a fight between a police officer and a member of the public during these beer drinking sprees,” said Chief Nyangazonke.
On Monday, we reported a case where a police Assistant Inspector based in Gwanda allegedly chewed $200 he had demanded as a bribe when he was cornered by two police officers immediately after receiving the dirty money. Medicine Siketha (38), who is stationed at Gwanda Urban Police Station, allegedly demanded the bribe from a local businessman Mr Tamuka Zhou to facilitate the clearance of his vehicle which had been impounded by the police. Yesterday, we reported on a policeman from Masvingo who allegedly gave a hooker his uniform as surety after failing to pay her $20 for a night of sex and went on to make a false report of theft.
There are numerous other reports of impropriety involving police officers and figures from the ZRP itself vindicate our concern that corruption has reached alarming levels within the force.
At least 300 traffic police officers were sacked for corruption in 2014 after being found guilty among other breaches of the ZRP Charter of receiving bribes from motorists who had fallen foul of road regulations. Some of them are said to have mounted unapproved roadblocks to demand bribes from errant motorists. This has dented the image of the ZRP as a professional force with a zero tolerance to graft.
The organisation needs to rededicate itself to its core values of commitment, accountability, transparency and integrity. It also needs to be ruthless in dealing with cases of indiscipline and malfeasance so that it reclaims its status as one of the best police services in Africa.