Police launch blitz on rowdy touts; 140 arrested countrywide so far

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By Tapiwa Svondo 

IN a bid to restore order and protect travellers, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has launched a comprehensive crackdown on touts operating across the country.

In a statement, police spokesperson, Commissioner Paul Nyathi, said the blitz code-named “No To Touts,” aims to arrest and prosecute the gangs, which harass, threaten, and force passengers to board public service vehicles and pirate taxis.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police has launched a comprehensive operation dubbed, ‘No To Touts’ throughout the country to specifically ensure that all touting activities by gangs who are harassing, threatening and forcing travellers to board public service vehicles and pirate taxis are arrested and taken to court.

“As of June 20, 2024, a total of 410 touts had been arrested and taken to court for the legal process to run its course,” said Nyathi.

ZRP has coordinated with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to ensure suspects appear in batches, with no option for deposit fines at police stations.

“ZRP has engaged the JSC for all suspects arrested to appear in court in batches. In this regard, no deposit fines will be accepted at police stations.”

Police also issued a strong warning to public service vehicle operators and crews, stating that they will face consequences if found to be employing touts.

“Public service vehicle operators and their crew are strongly warned against employing touts. The operators will also face the due consequences of the law if evidence points to them as employers of touts.

“In the same vein, pirate taxis or mushikashika vehicles who are also using touts to perpetuate illegal activities such as picking and dropping passengers at undesignated points will not be spared,” added the police spokesperson.

The decisive action by police comes in response to the growing menace of touting, which has long plagued Zimbabwe’s public transportation sector.

Touts, often part of organised hoodlums, harass and intimidate travellers, forcing them into vehicles against their free will and sometimes even resorting to violence.