Abel Zhakata Senior Reporter
THREE police constables who were off duty but hatched a plan to extort money from illegal diamond dealers in Chiadzwa, disguised as detectives from the minerals section, have been arrested together with a civilian accomplice they worked with to commit the crimes.
The quartet — identified as constables Chuma, Muteti, another Chuma and a civilian Norest Magurei — were exposed after one of the three complainants tipped off police officers stationed at a nearby base in Marange about the covert operations of the suspects who were moving around with a Toyota Sprinter.
They were quickly arrested and investigations carried out by the arresting officers revealed that the three constables, who work at Dangamvura and Mutare Central police stations, were off duty but travelled to Marange to dupe the complainants abusing their positions.
Officer Commanding Manicaland Police Commissioner Dr Wiklef Makamache said apart from the criminal trial the officers were facing at the courts following their arrest, the force had also instituted disciplinary action against them.
“They have been suspended from active police work till the finalisation of the disciplinary hearings we are going to conduct,” he said.
“The position of the President of the country is that of zero tolerance against corruption and our Commissioner-General has echoed the same sentiments. We have thus reactivated and reconfigured our systems within the police force so that we sweep clean our rank and file of all traces of corruption.
“The arrest of these three officers who abused their duties as peace officers and also abused the system for their own personal gain shows the seriousness we have in fighting corruption. We are re-branding as the ZRP and in so doing we are eliminating rough elements within our midst.”
Dr Makamache said in the morning of November 2, the suspects who were driving a Toyota Sprinter approached the first complainant and threatened to arrest him accusing him of being an illegal diamond dealer.
The complainant who feared to get arrested gave the suspects US$60.
Moments later the suspects approached another complainant in the same area. Using the same modus operandi they were given US$30 after they threatened to arrest the complainant saying they were detectives from the minerals section.
Satisfied that their plan was working well, the suspects approached another complainant who only gave them US$10. Soon after handing them the money, the complainant went to nearby police and made a report.
On Monday the accused persons appeared in court facing criminal abuse of duty and extortion charges.
They were each granted $100 bail and the case will go to trial on November 22.