Dad, Son Arrested For Mounting Illegal Bush Police Roadblock

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

A FATHER and son pair, who are members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Neighbourhood Watch Committee stationed at Karoi Rural, has been dragged to court for allegedly mounting an unsanctioned roadblock where they demanded bribes.

Mangezi Sithole (48) and his offspring, 24-year-old Talent Sithole, appeared Friday before Karoi magistrate Felix Chauromwe charged with contravening Section 174, or alternatively Section 134, which relate to criminal abuse of duty and extortion, respectively.

The pair was not asked to plead and was remanded in custody to 13 August for routine remand.

The complainant is Peter Kanyungwa (31), a commuter omnibus operator.

The state case, led by prosecutor Gerald Dhamusi is that on 28 July this year, at around 2:30 pm, the complainant who owns a kombi, loaded 16 passengers and proceeded towards Magororo in Magunje.

Kanyungwa drove along Karoi-Chirundu highway heading towards Magunje and upon reaching Twin River Inn, he diverted off the main road to avoid a police roadblock mounted at the 204-kilometre peg.

Complainant used a detour dust road that passes through farms, and after driving for about three kilometres he was stopped by the Sitholes, who wore ZRP uniforms and were armed with baton sticks.

They had a white Mazda Bongo van registration number AFl 0716 parked by the roadside.

The court heard the cops quizzed Kanyungwa why he was operating a passenger service that was banned during the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.

Both accused persons allegedly demanded from Kanyungwa US$20 to allow him passage, but he indicated he could pay US$10, and pleaded for the duo to accept it.

The father and son team refused to back down, before threatening to take Kanyungwa to the highway roadblock which he had evaded where he would face punitive measures.

As they haggled, Kanyungwa phoned Karoi Traffic officer-in-charge only identified as Inspector Shari, who teamed up with district police commander, Chief Superintendent Helena Mahonde, who rushed to the scene.

Upon arrival, the police bosses confronted the Sitholes, who admitted they had not been officially deployed to create and man the checkpoint.

They were immediately arrested and taken to Karoi Urban police station.

Further investigations indicated the pair had, two days earlier, mounted another illegal roadblock on the same road stretch where they extorted US$17 from Kanyungwa who, however, never lodged a formal police report.