BEITBRIDGE – Are you a newly graduated policeman who wants to drive your own car in less than three months?
Or you have been in the force for many years and the dream of owning a car has remained just an illusion endlessly pursued?
Where are you stationed?
If you have not been deployed to Beitbridge Police Station then you can as well kiss goodbye to that dream at least for now – you are at the wrong place.
But if fate finds you at Beitbridge, the hotspot, “muri panyanga” (you are at the controls) because in less than a year, at most, you will not only drive, but also own the car of your choice. Every other policeman in the country envies you for where you work!
Such is the reality at Beitbridge where members of the public in need of police assistance are having a nightmare to park their vehicles at the police station because all the parking space are filled by cars belonging to policemen working there.
“I had to struggle to find parking space, we can no longer park inside the police station yard as before because there are many police bosses’ vehicle inside and outside it is worse, junior officers’ cars eat up all the parking space and you have to park far away,” said a Beitbridge resident who refused to be named for fear of victimization.
“The police station yard can easily pass for a car sale because you find every type of a car here, mostly late ex-Japanese models,” he said.
True to the word, you find Mini Coopers, BMWs, Mercedes Benz cars, Toyota Altezza, Mazda Atenza, all terrain SUVs and pick-up trucks – you name it, it is there.The police officers scramble for parking in the morning when they report for duty and all the open spaces outside the police station are filled up with cars belonging to the cops alone. Others park as far as 100 metres away from the office because they are not early birds.
“You have to be here early to get good parking. We all prefer under trees because of the heat,” one policeman said.
An elderly policeman said he wondered how the policemen, some who have just come from the training depots, are driving their own cars a few months after being deployed to Beitbridge.
You wonder how they can afford all these cars yet policemen at other stations are struggling. This station is far different from other police stations in the country,” he said adding he had been in the police force for long but remains “upright”.
He said there were many ways and theories of how the police make their money with most ultimately leading to crime committed during the course of their jobs.
“Some extort cigarette smugglers they intercept, demand bribes to throw away vital evidence in criminal cases, assisting smugglers and human traffickers, facilitating the importation of hard drugs, stealing cash from accident scenes and at times participating in those crimes.
Recently a policeman was discharged from the force after he was found in possession of a mobile phone that disappeared at an accident involving some locals.
Another woman police sergeant from Beitbridge was given a 12-hour order to relocate to a remote police station after her bosses learnt of her daily corrupt activities in the traffic department she was attached to.
In 2013 Matabeleland South business community requested the Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni to rein in police accusing them of having a penchant for demanding bribes, particularly at the Beitbridge border post.
Some of the policemen have been fingered in serious cross-border crimes of facilitating the importation of stolen vehicles while others are heavily involved in human smuggling.At Beitbridge, where there are no visible foot patrols by police in residential suburbs, even young female police officers drive cars bought from proceeds of a variety of light to serious criminal activities that border mostly on blackmail, smuggling and extortion.
A few are in the buying and selling business and spend their off-days shopping goods to supply their orders from other towns.
“That’s what happens here, that is why those who are transferred from here opt to resign, or if they go, every other weekend they are here and are found in the border post,” said the old policeman.
The elderly policeman said there was need for a lifestyle audit of all policemen stationed at Beitbridge.
At Dulivhadzimo Bus Terminus many policemen are seen escorting people whose goods they assisted smuggling into the country.
Others extort cash from cross-border shoppers who will have evaded paying duty.