YOU ARE FORCED TO PAY A POLICE BRIBE AT SIX OF EVERY SEVEN ROADBLOCKS IN ZIMBABWE – REPORT SAYS
CORRUPTION by Zimbabwe Republic Police traffic officers is “worsening”, the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACTSA) says in a new report.
Researchers from the ACTSA travelled by public transport from Plumtree to Kwekwe on October 9 this year and documented incidents of bribe solicitation by traffic officers.
The Namibia-registered bus they travelled in was stopped SEVEN times between Plumtree and Bulawayo – a distance of 100km. The journey which should have taken slightly over an hour lasted three hours due to traffic officers negotiating bribes, ACTSA said in its findings released on Monday.
Foreign-registered vehicles are more likely to be stopped than vehicles with Zimbabwean number plates.
The report, titled ‘Stealing from the State and Impoverishing the Nation: Zimbabwean Traffic Police Officers Pocketing Huge Sums of Money through Bribes at Checkpoints’, says “the sin of corruption is now deeply rooted to such an extent that the culprits are demanding bribes publicly as if it is normal to do so.”
The researchers said: “Police officers between Plumtree and Bulawayo were more corrupt as compared to their colleagues between Bulawayo and Kwekwe. They were paid bribes at six of the seven checkpoints, which constitute 85.7% prevalence.
“There were five checkpoints between Bulawayo and Gweru and only one incident of corruption was recorded. At 11:24AM when the driver was stopped for overspeeding, he begged for forgiveness but the police officers demanded a bribe which he paid before being allowed to proceed. No receipt was issued.
“There were no incidents of corruption between Gweru and Kwekwe.”
ACTSA says its researchers boarded the bus as it cleared the Plumtree border post.
Stop 1: The bus exited the immigration and customs before 7AM and at exactly, 7:18AM on the way out, three male police officers, including a Criminal Investigations Department (CID) official, demanded US$10 or R100 to allow the bus to leave the immigration area without being searched.
The bus driver and the conductor resisted paying the bribe claiming that they had already paid immigration and customs officials. There were heated arguments until the bus was allowed to leave the immigration area but instructed to park outside the gate.
At exactly 7:26AM, two uniformed police officers (1 male and 1 female) different from all those involved at immigration followed outside the gate and demanded payment of US$10 or R100. They negotiated with the driver outside the bus and were paid US$5, which they accepted though they expected more. The bus driver was warned that in future he will risk more delays if enough bribe money is not paid.
Stop 2: At 7:28AM, the bus arrived at another checkpoint where a male police officer demanded a bribe, which the driver paid. In order to put pressure on the driver, the police officer demanded the driver’s licence and the vehicle’s registration books, which he kept holding, whilst demanding that the whole trailer be offloaded.
In order to avoid all the inconveniences the officer openly demanded payment of US$10, which he was given before giving the driver his driver’s licence and the vehicle registration documents.
Stop 3: The bus arrived at another checkpoint at 7:49AM, where again the police officer demanded to see the driver’s licence and the vehicle registration documents. He instructed the bus driver to follow him to a nearby tree where he was paid US$5 before allowing the bus to proceed.
Stop 4:At 7:56AM, the bus was stopped at another police checkpoint, where a CID official demanded that he needed to search the bus and ordered that the trailer should be offloaded. The driver lied and argued that the trailer had been offloaded at the border and it was pointless to offload it again. The official insisted and he was paid US$10 before allowing the driver to proceed.
Stop 5: At 8:39AM, the driver was stopped and asked to produce road permits which he did. Police officers did not ask for any bribe and the bus was allowed to proceed.
Stop 6: The vehicle was stopped at 9:02AM and the driver was asked to produce his driver’s licence and road permit which was done. The police asked for a bribe citing the need to avoid offloading the trailer. The driver paid R100 and he was allowed to proceed.
Stop 7: At a police checkpoint close to Redwood along the Plumtree-Bulawayo highway, a woman police officer demanded a bribe which she was paid. The driver inserted US$ notes in the ticket book and was immediately allowed to proceed.
The bus driver who paid the bribes said: “When you are driving a bus and have a trailer the approach is to ask all passengers to contribute money, which will then be paid to immigration and customs officials to avoid
“At Plumtree border post, we always pay a minimum of R1,000 to these officials and we budget for at least US$200 for traffic police officers from Plumtree border post to Harare. To us this is normal and the best way to proceed, instead of being delayed.”