HARARE – Police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri has stepped in to rein in corrupt top police officers who had created Mafia-style operations to dupe people of their money and property, a high-level source told the Daily News yesterday.
The move comes after a police commissioner, Oliver Chibage, was fired last week amid a litany of allegations levelled against him by different people.
Reports reaching the Daily News are that at least three other commissioners could be forced to resign amid shocking details that they were using Chihuri’s name to conduct corrupt activities, including protecting criminals.
Dozens others below the rank of commissioner like chief superintendents could also be netted in Chihuri’s probe. The Daily News has also been told that the targeted officers are hatching a plan to soil Chihuri’s name in a desperate bid to stop him from moving in on the corrupt officers.
Said the police source: “The nation pins its hopes on the man whose name was being soiled behind his back. He has shown courage to deal with corruption in his own office. However, there is growing fear from within that the rogue elements in the police force will try and besmirch their boss’ name by trying to implicate him here and there as a strategy to distract society from the real culprits and police and society must not buy into that.”
“Why would the culprits now want to drag the police chief only after they have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar? We say no to such cheap politicking.”
Chibage was one of the few security details seconded by government to sit on the board of Anjin — one of the mining firms exploiting the country’s diamonds in Chiadzwa.
In the wake of Chibage’s forced resignation, sources claim Chihuri has ordered the investigation of a litany of corrupt deals involving senior officers using the commissioner-general’s name to fleece people and companies of their money.
This comes as a Harare man, Mugove Kufa, has also taken aim at Chibage, demanding over $400 000 in loss of business after the ex-top cop allegedly sanctioned an “illegal seizure” of his business truck.
According to court papers filed at the High Court, Kufa, who operates a transport company in Harare, says Chibage ordered his subordinates to impound and unlawfully detain his Nissan UD truck for seven days.
Court documents seen by the Daily News show that two drivers employed by Kufa were stopped at a roadblock along Mutare Road.
Five defects were detected on their vehicle and upon being questioned, they claimed that the vehicle belonged to Chibage, a fact which later turned out to be false.
Chibage filed a $50 000 defamation law suit against the drivers (Edward Tirivafi and Louis Kufa) and the owner of the business.
In his response to Kufa’s demands, Chibage said the use of his name by the two drivers was “a threat to national security, hence police officers were correct to impound the truck for further investigations”.
Before this latest development, Chibage’s case took a dramatic turn after a Harare couple last week sensationally claimed that the he abused office together with his top lieutenants in what they alleged was a relentless drive to illegally seize their investments.
The couple claims Chibage, chief superintendent Joel Tenderere and a retired army major Chademana waged a battle to ensure their removal from Outdoor Living Centre, a stone and slate miners and purveyors in Msasa.
Shekede, through her company Prisgate Trading, operated Outdoor Living Centre in Msasa, at premises she had been leasing from a white couple, Terry and Lorna Rhodes.
In a detailed October 4, 2013 report to Chihuri, Shekede claimed that the police officers were harassing her to the extent of setting up criminal gangs to harass her.
“Chibage, Tenderere and their gang have deployed several criminals who are illegally occupying my residence, thus making it impossible and unsafe to live there for me and the children,” Shekede claims in the detailed report to Chihuri.
A close source told the Daily News that Chihuri had to step in after several abuses were reported, with claims that some of his subordinates were using his name in conducting corrupt activities.
“It’s kind of this tough love that he recognised his officers and praised them when they did a good job but also punished them when they did not,” said another top police source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The commissioner-general is actually delivering, in his efforts to root out corruption.
“He has recently been giving these sort of motivational kind of evangelical speeches to them, telling everyone that you have to be an honest policeman and your life will be easier.”
One of the cases said to be under probe involves large quantities of cement purchased at concessionary rates in Chihuri’s name but it turned out that the consignment was for one of his subordinates.
The racket was reportedly busted by Chihuri himself when one of the truckloads of cement was “mistakenly” delivered at his house, only to emerge that it belonged to another police officer.
“The truckload went to the commissioner-general’s home and it was his name which was on the invoice but the people at the house raised the police boss inquiring if he had ordered any cement.
“This was when the case exploded because Chihuri reportedly expressed ignorance on the origins of the cement and immediately became curious to investigate because he suspected there was a scam brewing,” said a senior police source.
However, well-placed sources in the police force yesterday told the Daily News that Chihuri has vowed to leave no stone unturned in combating these corrupt activities.
The source said Chihuri was furious that his subordinates were using his name to conduct corrupt activities.
With claims that huge sums of money exchanged hands, well-placed sources told the Daily News that the move to root out these corrupt activities was also necessitated by allegations of a stolen car that ended up in the hands of a police commissioner.
“Chihuri also got wind of it and has directed his deputies to investigate. The other case involves a company which supplied sub-standard uniforms to the police which a senior police officer reportedly influenced to have it awarded the tender. There are other cases which will come out in the open soon,” the source added.