An angry mob rained blows on a police officer who had allegedly caused an accident by grabbing the steering wheel from a driver whose commuter omnibus he had impounded on Saturday.
The cop’s actions caused the vehicle to ram into a shop.
A passenger who declined to be named said the cop had ordered the driver to drive to Drill Hall Police Station but had apparently changed his mind and seemed to ask for a bribe.
“The driver appeared not to cooperate, resulting in the cop grabbing the steering wheel,” said the passenger.
The Bulawayo United Public Transporters Association (Bupta) kombi uprooted a pillar and crashed into a glass display at a hardware shop at the corner of Third Avenue and Lobengula Street around 10AM.
Witnesses said the commuter omnibus which had been impounded by police at a check point near McKeurtan Primary School “dangerously zigzagged across the road” and sent pedestrians scurrying for cover as the driver and the unnamed cop wrestled for the steering wheel.
“The kombi started swerving and we knew something was wrong. It then shot off the road and hit a pillar forcing its way into the hardware shop.” said Mr Alliance Kamuti.
“If it wasn’t for the pillar, there would have been serious injuries.”
Only the driver is said to have sustained minor injuries in the fracas.
Another witness said the officer who had impounded the vehicle tried to flee with an angry mob in hot pursuit.
“Some people kicked and punched him all over the body. He ran across the road. He seemed dazed as he returned towards the mob. Angry pedestrians ran after him and one slapped him before his colleagues rescued him,” said the witness.
The shop owner, who only identified himself as Mr N Moyo, said: “I was inside the shop when I heard a loud bang. I went outside to investigate and saw that a kombi had slammed into my shop.”
He said the officer jumped out of the car and fled.
“When I got outside, the police officer started running away. I tried to stop him but he continued running,” said Mr Moyo.
“The driver disembarked from the kombi screaming that the cop had grabbed the steering wheel causing him to lose control.”
Mr Moyo said battles between traffic police and kombi drivers should not endanger the public.
“This is not right, so we have to die just because the police want a $5 bribe. They should keep their battles to themselves and not put the public in danger,” said Mr Moyo.
“We can’t die because someone wants a $5 dollar bribe. Imagine if there were people on the pavement, they would have all died and their families would suffer.
“If the police want bribes, it’s better they brand their roadblocks as tollgates so that we know every time we approach a police check point that we have to leave some money.”
Mr Moyo said he reported the matter to the police.
“They refused to attend the scene citing security reasons. They said they were waiting for back-up as people were now beating officers of the law,” he said.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango yesterday said she was yet to receive a report of the issue.
Bupta secretary general Mr Albert Ncube declined to comment for the same reason