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All That (African) Jazz

CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY 

Constance van Niekerk in Vereeniging, SA



I was shocked as I read with utter disgust an account of how the law enforcement officers in Zimbabwe are turning into the criminals they’re supposed to be locking up, now they’re just assisting them to rob tourists and nationals of their hard earned cash in a nation where unemployment rate has skyrocketed and no money in circulation. 


A woman at the mercy of law enforcement officers in Zimbabwe


This is apparently not an isolated incident as other Facebook users commented with their own experiences similar to the account. What happened to integrity? What happened to ubuntu? What happened to Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe has clearly turned into a jungle. It is a dog eat dog kind of situation. It is survival of the fittest. How sad, how did we get here?


Z.R.P in action


I remember a Zimbabwe that was very peaceful, the land of milk and honey. The land were dreams came true, where everyone was their brother’s keeper. The law was the law and nobody was above it. I remember the green green grass of a mighty nation, the bread basket of Africa…. CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY. 


Police officers beating up a civilian

Below is the Facebook post from Mukudzei Simeon Maravanyika’s timeline:


Incident with Constable Sithole – ZRP Traffic Road Block, near Bistro on the Borrowdale Road. at 11.45 Wednesday, 7 December 2016.
Leanne (a cousin, an Australian national, and a visitor to Zimbabwe) was stopped at the roadblock on the Borrowdale Road and was accused by the traffic constable of talking on her cellphone whilst driving. Her cellphone was in her bag, behind the driver’s seat. She explained this to the Constable. However he took away her drivers licence and demanded 20 usd as a fine. Leanne did not have the cash on her, and called my husband and I for assistance. She told the Policeman that we were bringing the cash. He however said that would take too long and that she had to follow him to the Borrowdale Police Station. He rode off on his motorbike at speed with her licence.
Leanne, being a tourist, did not know the location of the Borrowdale Police Station, and was left stranded. We found her parked on the Borrowdale Road and accompanied her to the Police Station.
The ZRP reception directed us to the traffic section. The traffic policeman concerned finally identified himself as Constable Sithole. She refused to pay the fine as this was a fictitious accusation and pure extortion.
Both Constable Sithole and his companion were extremely unpleasant. They impounded Leanne’s vehicle, told her that she needed to get a lawyer, that she was not to leave the police station, and that she would not be able to leave Zimbabwe on Friday 9th December as per her itinerary. They were not at all concerned that she was a tourist (and said as much), or that we were going to report this incident to their superiors at Morris Depot, and to the Australian Embassy. We immediately phoned our Lawyer who was prepared to come to our assistance if need be. Unfortunately the Australian Embassy did not answer their phones (lunch time?).
Eventually Constable Sithole handed Leanne’s licence to me, but said that she was not to leave the police station. We over rode this by asking “on what grounds were they detaining her”…. and obviously they could not answer.
Before leaving, we insisted on making an official complaint to the Commanding Officer at the Borrowdale Police Station. He was not on site. We were directed to a 2-I-C who listened to our complaint and the injustice of the Traffic Police’s accusations. Leanne’s phone log clearly showed that she did not make or receive a call during the period in question.
Eventually the ZRP Borrowdale Police apologised on behalf of the Traffic Police over whom, they stressed, they had no jurisdiction. (Constable Sithole and his cohort were no longer to be seen!).
They indicated that they would counsel Constable Sithole to amend his behaviour. However, there was still a veiled threat from the ZRP Police : Leanne would only be allowed to take her car, if we undertook not to make a complaint to Morris Depot. We objected to, and ignored, this condition.
Finally at 13.30 we left the Borrowdale Police Station… Leanne and car intact !
Leanne departed from Zimbabwe on a 7 am flight, 9 December 2016.
She takes away with her from this once in a lifetime trip, memories of numerous, unpleasant and frightening road block altercations throughout Zimbabwe, having to pay several fines for petty issues. This last incident, two days before her departure from Zimbabwe, was extremely distressing, made worse by the fact that the accusation by these Borrowdale Road Traffic Police was a complete fabrication.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and all Embassies must advise foreign visitors that this will be part of their Zimbabwean experience. Embassies need to publish 24hour hotlines to assist their visiting nationals in the event of vehicle impounding, threats of detention, and spurious fines.
We make this statement precisely because of our love for our country and its people. .
Cathy and Mouse Bhika, CvPeopleAfrica.



All photos taken from Simba Kingmaker’s Facebook photo album. 

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About Editor

Constance van Niekerk is a South African-based Zimbabwean-born creative writer, poet, music lover, spoken word artist, freelance writer, blogger and educator. She has contributed to several anthologies and published her own collection, Echoes of My Heart: A Poetry Collection available for purchase on all Amazon Stores Worldwide. She is also Editor at ZimOnlineNews. Follow her on Twitter : @convanniekerk Connect with her on Facebook and Linkedin.

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Echoes of My Heart: A Poetry Collection by Constance van Niekerk

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