Police nab over 300 touts
HARARE – Police yesterday arrested more than 300 touts as authorities clampdown on an extortion ring that had wreaked havoc in the capital.
Heavily armed riot police rounded most touts in Harare with the early morning rush hour degenerating into chaos.
An uneasy calm later enveloped the city with most bus termini unusually quiet.
The clampdown was provoked by the savage attack on two Special Forces soldiers by touts on Friday last week. The military staged a revenge attack.
Army spokesperson Alphios Makotore said: “Talk to the police, they have spokespersons that should be able to tell you what is happening.”
Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka told the Daily News a total of 308 touts had been arrested.
“We are reacting to public complaints against touts; the police have a moral and constitutional duty to maintain peace and order in the country.
“We have arrested 308 suspected touts. Police are now in the process of verifying some of them for criminal activities while some of them will pay deposit fines,” Mandipaka said.
The modus operandi that has developed is that all public transport operators have to pay some money to alleged Zanu PF leaders.
The Daily News witnessed running battles between riot police and touts along Mbuya Nehanda Street.
“The police are saying call-back yamakasender takaiwona,” literally translated to mean ‘you touts invited this chaos upon yourselves.’
Groups of military police could also be seen patrolling the streets and termini while police armed to the teeth with automatic weapons stood guard.
Zanu PF youth leader Jim Kunaka reportedly controls the Mbare Musika bus terminus and all other small ranks in the suburb.
Fanuel Mutasa, who reportedly owns a fleet of kombis that ply the Harare-Marondera route, allegedly controls the Charge Office termini while Wilbert Zhakata, who was heavily assaulted by his erstwhile comrades in August and resides in Marimba Park, controls the Showgrounds rank.
One Chigaba controls the Warren Park terminus.
The leaders, known as mandimbandimba, drive the latest BMW X5s, Grand Cherokees and Mercedes Benz MLs and often visit the sites to collect money from runners.
Insiders claim they are collecting as much as $30 000 per day.
It has been learnt that the money collected by runners-up to 12pm on a given day is sent to the Zanu PF provincial office adjacent Fourth Street terminus and the remainder collected up to 10pm is pocketed by the leaders.
Charges reportedly also differ with South Africa-bound buses coughing up to a $100 from Mbare while Bulawayo-bound buses pay up to $50 a trip from the Showgrounds.