Honda Fit: Face of crime in the city

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Feature/worldwide - Crys­ta­bel Chikayi Fea­tures Reporter

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

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