Senior cop sucked into $5 traffic extortion  

Brenna Matendere

Harare—Vulindlela Jamela, a police superintendent holding the office of deputy officer commanding Kwekwe district—or Dispol Minor—in the Midlands province, has been sucked into a US$5 road extortion, NewsHub can reveal.

Jamela has acknowledged the incident and admitted his involvement by paying back the $5 that Kwekwe traffic details extorted from a motorist close to four months ago in what seems to be an attempt to cover up the crime.

The matter surfaced after the victim, Tapiwa Marozva from Zhombe in the same province, wrote an affidavit-backed complaint to the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA), detailing the extortion and pleading for help to have the involved traffic details punished.

Marozva indicates in his affidavit dated 14 December and stamped by a Kwekwe commissioner of oaths that he was ferrying mourners to Zhombe when, on 29 August 2023, he was stopped by four traffic details along the Kwekwe-Zhombe road who demanded a $5 bribe.

The police details reportedly informed him that he was not authorised to transport the mourners, so he had to bribe them to pass.

According to him, he had to borrow the money from a named friend.

“My plight started on the 29th of August 2023, when I was forced to pay a US$5 bribe to police officers based in Kwekwe who had mounted a roadblock along Kwekwe-Zhombe road,” reads part of the complaint.

“Upon pressure from four police officers…comprised of (sic) two female and two male (police details), I ended up borrowing the money from my friend known as Shingi and paid the bribe since I did not want to delay the mourners who were rushing to attend a funeral service.

“These mourners are my witnesses and they will explain what happened if needed. In addition, the person from whom I borrowed the money knows exactly the purpose of the money that I borrowed from him and can testify,” added Marozva.

He approached ACT-SA, a corruption watchdog, for help after dropping off the mourners in Zhombe.

In turn, ACT-SA blew the whistle on the four traffic details to Superintendent Jamela who requested to meet the victim.

Marozva expected Jamela to institute a formal complaint against the four police details but, to his surprise, the Dispol Minor gave him back the $5 that he had paid at the roadblock and described the incident as a minor issue.

Under the Police Act, Jamela was supposed to order disciplinary or criminal proceedings against the traffic officers involved in the case and failure to do so is, under the same law, considered to be a criminal act performing duty in an improper manner.

When asked to comment on the issue, Jamela claimed that he had not taken action against the offending traffic officers because Marozva had not been able to identify them.

However, NewsHub established that ACT-SA had supplied him with the identities of the details manning the roadblock.

Police procedures require station commanders to keep records of deployments—through observation books (OBs) and other logging means—indicating the names and ranks of details involved, day, time, purpose and place.

Jamela insisted that his gesture of returning the $5 to Marozva was not meant to sweep the matter under the carpet but, instead his personal decision to help the victim return home after the two’s meeting.

“There were no names which were given to me by the complainant regarding who he gave the bribe money so I could not act on the matter,” he said.

He added: “That ($5) was not a refund of the bribe money. It was just money from my pocket which I gave the complainant to use as bus fare to go back to his home,” he told NewsHub.
Jamela said he was not willing to seriously consider the information supplied to him by ACT-SA because he had no faith in its director, Obert Chinhamo.

“Chinhamo is a criminal. I do not want to deal with him. His dealings are not professional,” he said.

ACT-SA has been tracking corruption-related incidents in Kwekwe and the Midlands province for a long time.

Chinhamo said corruption within the Zimbabwe Republic Police was rife in Kwekwe.

“ACT-SA has handled so many cases of corruption other than this one by Kwekwe police and some of these cases were brought to the attention of the management of the police at district level and their headquarters in Harare, in addition to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission. In several cases, police officers receive bribes from pirate vehicle operators. This is done in the full view of the public,” he said.

He warned against the practice of simply transferring police officers alleged to be involved in corruption and called for their punishment as well.

“There is an avalanche of demands from the community that all police officers should declare their assets amid claims that some of them have accumulated so much from the proceeds of corruption,” added Chinhamo.

Marozva told this publication that he has been constantly harassed by the police details who he reported to ACT-SA and Jamela.

“On the 21st of September 2023, I met the same police officers along the Zhombe- Kwekwe road and they threatened me for reporting the matter… I met the police officers two more times and they issued similar threats,” stated Marozva.

He alleges that, on 13 November, other police traffic members stopped him near the Tiger Reef turnoff and tried to wrest the car key from him and, in the ensuing skirmish, it was broken.

Zimbabwe is yet to enact a law that specifically protects whistleblowers.

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