By Ndatenda Njanike
SEVEN Gweru police officers have appeared before a local magistrate facing charges of accepting bribes from shop owners who were undermining the Covid-19 national lockdown regulations by operating without authority.
The seven accused are all constables stationed at Gweru Rural Police Station and were arrested Monday following a tip-off.
They are accused of soliciting and accepting bribes from nine shop proprietors and bottle store operators between April 25 and May 1, 2020.
The seven appeared before Gweru Provincial Magistrate Tayengwa Sangster Wednesday and were remanded out of custody to June 18 on $3 000 bail each.
The court heard that on April 25, the junior police officers drove to Shamrock Mine in Lower Gweru where they approached Khumbulani Sibanda who was selling liquor without a licence.
In a bid to spare the unlicensed bottle store operator from arrest, the police officers allegedly took 16 cases of Chibuku Super and four cases of cane spirits.
The operator then offered them $1 000 so they could return the confiscated opaque beer and cases of cane spirits.
The police officers further approached one Ngwenya and told him they had used government fuel to raid his shop before asking him to replace it or they were going to confiscate 200 litres of diesel he was keeping in the business premises.
He allegedly gave them $200 and 20 litres of diesel before they left.
Using the same approach, they went and raided Kitchenburg Farm on April 28 in the Matobo area of Gweru, where they allegedly approached Alice Chokora who operates a shop and liquor store.
Chokora bribed them with $1 000 to evade arrest.
On May 1, at around 2pm, the officers approached Dumoluhle Ngwenya at Ranch Farm in Lower Gweru and confiscated his beer.
They also ordered him to collect $150 cash from each of the other seven operators in the area totalling $1 050 before they went away.