Honda Fit: Face of crime in the city
SHE is portable yet spacious and that her fuel consumption is easy on the pocket is a plus.
Everyone wants her in their car port. Some call her the “handy run-about car” but she is a Honda Fit.
Her automatic transmission frees the driver from having to shift gears manually.
She became the ride in style because she was affordable.
The business minded saw an opportunity to make money using the Honda Fit, so they bought them in numbers and turned them into pirate taxis.
More and more Honda Fit have flooded the streets of Bulawayo as their drivers whistle unstoppably in search of those in need of a fast and reliable mode of transport.
But the city has lost its sanity to unregistered pirating Honda Fit and their reckless drivers.
They park in no-parking zones and stop to drop off and pick up customers haphazardly.
To avoid parking tickets from Council police, some Honda Fit drivers remove number plates from their cars while others cover them with cardboard boxes.
Sadly, some have gone on to use Honda Fit as crime rooms. As a result all manner of vice has been associated with the Honda Fit.
Recently, a girl was raped by a Honda Fit driver but could not give police any useful information about the incident as the car had no number plates.
In another incident, Price Dube, a Honda Fit driver from Bulawayo, appeared before a court for detaining a Form Two boy before sexually assaulting him after luring the boy by offering him free rides in his Honda Fit.
Such incidents are on the increase, causing people to shun the car altogether as it is associated with many evils.
Bulawayo resident Mr Lindokuhle Moyo said he wanted to buy a Honda Fit as it is affordable but was now having second thoughts as the car is continuously associated with unruliness.
“I don’t think I’ll still be buying a Honda Fit. You see, these cars are now associated with so many evils such that there’s a stereotype surrounding them. Wherever there’s a crime, you’ll find that a Honda Fit is involved. I suppose the police now arrest every Honda Fit driver because Honda Fit now means fault,” said Mr Moyo.
The police and the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) are always on their toes as they try to fight the crime and disorder emanating from a minority which has continued to use the vehicle to commit crime.
Mr David Mufuniya, a driver of a registered Honda Fit taxi said unregistered Honda Fit drivers are wild criminals who are always on the run fleeing from authorities.
“Drivers of unregistered Honda Fit vehicles are criminals who want nothing to do with transparency. Their cars have no number plates and so when they involve themselves in crime, no one is able to trace the crimes back to them. If I’m involved in any crime or scandal, the customer can take my company’s number, the vehicle’s registration number and file a complaint,” said Mr Mufuniya.
Pirate Honda Fit drivers say they drive around with no or covered number plates as a means of avoiding tickets from the BCC.
Mr McDonald Majaya, a Honda Fit pirate driver, said: “I removed the number plates from my car to avoid tickets from the BCC. Once Council police officers realise that a car is pirating, they write a ticket and the record is kept. If I have unpaid tickets, I can’t get a parking disc for my car because I’ll be indebted to the Council.”
Cases of police being kidnapped by pirate taxi drivers continue to increase by the day.
Pirate taxi drivers said these kidnappings happen in a bid to get rid of police officers who raid their cars.
“Police officers invade our cars dressed in civilian clothes and then show us work identification documents and claim that they have arrested us. Some drivers take the police to bushy places and with the help of their colleagues who they’ll be riding with, dump them there. You’ll notice that some pirate Honda Fit vehicles have a conductor nowadays. That’s done to ensure the driver has someone to help them get rid of police officers when they raid their cars disguised as passengers,” said Mr Majaya.
Other pirate taxi drivers said they render their services to help residents in areas such as Newton West and Hillside which have no commuter omnibuses plying their route.
Mr Dante Tshuma, a pirate taxi driver, said it would be prudent for the BCC to allow them to ply such routes.
“The authorities have made it appear as if driving a Honda Fit is an offence. It has been said that Honda Fit drivers park in non-parking areas and no one cares why. The places we pirate have very few bus stops. We just drive off the road and drop passengers because of the unavailability of bus stops. If the authorities could help legalise our trade and enact laws that the drivers of these cars should follow, it would be better,” said Mr Tshuma.
Passengers said they board the Honda Fit because they are fast cars in spite of them being connected to crimes.
One passenger from Hillside only identified as Mrs Mhare said: “The existence of Honda Fit as pirate taxis is just a sign that times are changing, the kombi era is fast fading. I board a Honda Fit because they are the most available and reliable means of transport. The car needs just five to six people and it takes off, whereas a kombi needs 12 or more.”
Clampdown operations by authorities have been conducted time and again yet Honda Fit are still actively pirating.
Many have questioned why they continue to thrive while others have concluded that Honda Fit pirate taxis are largely owned by police hence the failure to eliminate them.
Bulawayo deputy police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Abednico Ncube said they continue to arrest Honda Fit pirate taxis regardless of who owns them.
“If anyone has evidence that a pirate car belongs to a police officer, the door is open. Let that person come forward with the registration number of the car and the name of the owner. Once the owners are caught, legal steps will be followed in administering the cars and their owners. Some of these legal steps will be decided by the courts. All we’re asking is for members of the public to participate in the fight against these pirate taxis and help bring sanity to the city,” said Asst Insp Ncube. — @cchikayi
Honda Fit owners and drivers besiege Bulawayo City Council (BCC) stores along Khami Road in Bulawayo to reclaim their cars impounded by the city council. Most of them claim that the City Council has a tendency of victimising any citizen driving a Honda Fit claiming that it is used for pirating purposes. Inset, a Honda Fit loads passengers while blocking traffic along 8th Avenue in Bulawayo in this file photo