Police probe $5 road extortion

Brenna Matendere

Harare—Police in Kwekwe have opened investigations into reports of corruption by the district’s traffic officers which sucked in the deputy officer commanding district, Superintended Vulindlela Jamela

NewsHub recently exposed a US$5 roadblock extortion that put Jamela at the centre of the scandal.

A fortnight ago, a Zhombe citizen, Tapiwa Marozva, sought the help of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) that is based in Kwekwe to rein in the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) traffic details who had extorted the $5 from him on the Kwekwe-Zhombe road and were subsequently harassing him.

The details who were manning the roadblock forced him to pay the bribe as he ferried mourners to Zhombe from Kwekwe.

Jamela acknowledged to this publication that he had paid $5 to the motorist, even though he claimed it was to facilitate his return home after meeting him at his office.

The aggrieved motorist and ACT-SA insist that Jamela must have taken disciplinary action against the traffic details instead of sweeping the issue under the carpet.

The Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) has since stepped in and ordered an investigation of the matter following the publishing of the story by NewsHub, it has emerged.

Obert Chinhamo, the ACT-SA director who Jamela called a “criminal” and allegedly threatened for pursuing the extortion, was subsequently invited for a meeting with Jamela’s boss at the ZRP Kwekwe district headquarters, Chief Superintendent Ison Chapeta.

Chinhamo met Chapeta in person on 28 December and the latter informed him that he had noted the matter and tasked police investigators to probe the extortion case and the manner in which his deputy had handled the matter.

“They assured me that the investigations have started and I will also be called in to give my detailed testimony since we are the ones, at ACT-SA, who have been helping the victim of extortion to seek justice.

“Chief Superintendent Chapeta assured me that justice will prevail. He also responded to our call for a guarantee of our safety after it emerged that the police officers involved in the extortion case and Jamela were threatening us,” he said.

In collaboration with the Zimbabwe Women against Corruption Trust (ZWACT), ACT-SA issued an update statement that has been shared with PGHQ.

In the joint statement dated 27 December 2023, the two watchdogs condemned Jamela’s attacks on Chinhamo and pleaded for a guarantee of his safety.

“It is our firm submission that there should be safety guarantees for Mr Chinhamo and ACT-SA from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)’s General Head-Quarters,” reads the statement.

The ZWACT and ACT-SA allege that Jamela called and threatened Chinhamo on 25 November 2023.
“He (Jamela) told Mr Chinhamo that Kwekwe is too small and he might cause his arrest at any time. In addition, on the 28th of November 2023, six police officers stormed Musek Supermarket opposite Tecno Shop in the City of Kwekwe looking for Mr Chinhamo.

“It is fortunate that the officers failed to locate him, otherwise he would have been arrested on trumped up charges or harmed. The same senior official at Kwekwe DHQ used the media to label the ACT-SA director a criminal without having any conviction to support the label,” the statement further notes.

The two organisations requested thorough investigations by the police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Trust into the corruption and threats.

The Midlands police spokesperson, Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko, acknowledged seeing the joint statement by ACT-SA and ZWACT but said he was unable to give full details on police investigations into the case because the matter was being handled from PGHQ.

“The letter (joint statement by ACT-SA and ZWACT) was addressed to PGHQ. Get in touch with police national spokesperson. PGHQ is our highest office,” he said.

Police national spokesperson, Paul Nyati, confirmed investigations were ongoing but said he was not in a position to reveal progress on the probe done by Kwekwe police so far since he was yet to get updates from the investigators.
“They are yet to brief me fully, so I cannot give additional information on the progress of investigations at this stage,” he said.

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