Some Chilenje residents interviewed after going through unfair and unprofessional police conduct by traffic officers said the Home affairs Minister Edgar Lungu and Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani must discipline the police at Chilenje. Speaking during random interviews at Chilenje Police Station, some motorists complained that matters of soliciting bribes and charging drivers with flimsy offences were getting out of hand at the Police Station.
Mrs Pauline Chitente said traffic police officers from Chilenje said the traffic officers were mounting roadblocks in the Township as early as 06:00 hours.
She said the police were targeting women drivers and those driving public service vehicles as easy targets for siphoning money. Mrs Chitente said the police were also thriving on people’s ignorance of traffic offences and fines they attract.
“We just used to hear that there is corruption in the police, but what I have experienced with the police at Chilenje is very disturbing. There is no way a police man can be asking for a bribe from a citizen with such impunity. The worse thing is that even women, who everyone is claiming that they are better leaders are also in the forefront of intimidating and stealing from people. It is strange for a woman to openly ask for a bribe in our culture. This country is headed nowhere if we shall continue like this,” she said.
Another motorist Joseph Mbewe said the police arrested him because he was driving a vehicle without insurance and road fitness, although he had sufficient proof from his documents that he was taking the said car for inspection at the Road Transport and safety Agency, while he had a written booking for insurance inspection on the same day.
“I was made to look foolish. I was reduced to a beggar in trying to get the police officers to understand that there was no way I could get my car for road fitness and insurance inspection without driving it on the roads where I was impounded. These are the people who are tarninshing to good name of the service,” he said.
Mbewe who resides along Pemba road said he was impounded by the police along the same road when he was driving out of his yard.
He said the police were harassing innocent motorists and were in the habit of impounding private cars even in charges that did not require the police to confiscate a motor vehicle.
Mbewe said he gave K50, 000 to Sergeant Inambao and Sergeant Phiri and they released him to go with the vehicle, which they claimed was not road worthy.
“I was not the only one who gave Sergeant Phiri and Sergeant Inambao money. They also collected from other people. They are very tactical in the way they do it. They would ensure that you become desperate for the car by mentioning all those charges and the fines they carry, but they would ask if you have any amount if you cannot afford the official figures. I saw the two police men receive amounts of not less than K50, 000 from each motorist,” he said.
Mbewe said the media in Zambia should not focus on reporting corruption involving politicians alone, but also report on petty corruption in the police.
He said many innocent people were suffering because of being oppressed by the police, who are expected to serve the people.
A public service vehicles driver Thomas Gondwe said it had become normal for the police to impound his car and each they did that, the bus drivers have aflat figure of K50, 000, which they police collect.
He said Sergeant Phiri from the traffic section was a friend of the bus drivers.
“We expect the government to address such things because the new government promised to improve a lot of things for the bus drivers, but we are not seeing anything,” he said.
Gondwe said even if the salaries and other conditions of service for the police were improved, their corrupt behaviour would not change because they had become deeply entrenched in the graft.