By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
POLICE at the Chinhoyi Traffic Section are reported to have Wednesday arrested hordes of pirate taxi drivers and touts for celebrating the death of an escort motorbike rider on Easter Friday.
Sergeant Freddy Chipato, an escort motorbike outrider, was on traffic clearance duties to pave way for First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s motorcade when he collided head-on with an oncoming Toyota Altezza and died on the spot.
However, in a morbid celebration of the traffic officer’s demise, some unidentified motorists believed to be pirate taxi drivers drove to Chinhoyi Central Police Station’s main gate, where they started screeching tyres and sounding hooters.
It is further alleged the motorists and touts shouted at the top of their voices that “God’s Devine justice had been done to a ruthless and evil police officer.”
Chipato was allegedly notorious for demanding bribes from motorists and touts.
By mid-morning Wednesday, NewZimbabwe.com witnessed nearly 100 illegal taxis mostly Honda Fit vehicles parked in the Chinhoyi Central Police Station yard.
According to one driver whose car was seized by the police; “The police operation began early Wednesday morning. We heard from our police sources that what triggered the exercise was that some unidentified motorists came to the station and started skidding and sounding car horns.
“Some arresting cops told us today they were punishing us for celebrating Chipato’s death. Police are refusing to take admission of guilty fines and insisting they will only deal with us after two months and our cars will remain in police custody for the duration.”
Our news crew also witnessed some illegal taxis being driven into the police station yard where the tyres were immediately deflated.
Some drivers whose cars had been seized were seen loitering at Chinhoyi Civic Centre Park adjacent to the police station hoping their fortunes would turn for the better.
The impounding of pirate taxis resulted in commuters facing serious transport problems, particularly to the populous Chikonohono suburb and other routes which public transport utility ZUPCO buses do not ply.
Mashonaland West police spokesperson, Inspector Margaret Chitove dismissed rumours the police blitz to weed out illegal taxis and eradicate touting in the town was precipitated by unruly motorists who allegedly celebrated the biker’s demise.
She insisted the clampdown was aimed at regulating the public transport system.
“As Chinhoyi Traffic we are currently on an on-going operation targeting ‘mushikashika’ (pirate taxis) and touts. We want to warn all those who are operating illegal taxis that we are not going back until sanity prevails in Chinhoyi.”
Meanwhile, the police spokesperson urged members of the general public to remain vigilant and adhere to Covid-19 prevention and containment regulations as threats of the pandemic still lurk.