Police scandal: Clean-up begins

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HARARE – Following exposure by the Daily News of corruption among top police officers in Harare, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri has started cleaning up the force with senior police officer Joel Tenderere being the latest casualty.

He was transferred to a police backwater in Nkayi.

With superintendent Tenderere — who was implicated in an attempt to expropriate a Msasa property from a wealthy Harare couple — shunted to Nkayi, more top officers will be forced to leave their positions and be reassigned to new placements around the country, according to highly-placed sources.

Although Charity Charamba, the police spokesperson, said she was tied up in meetings when we reached her for comment yesterday, highly-placed sources confirmed Tenderere’s post was now vacant and his replacement will be announced soon.

While there was no evidence the officers being transferred were corrupt and the measure is being taken as a standard precaution to prevent criminal infiltration, Tenderere’s transfer has stocked speculation that his removal was because of suspicions over corruption and ties to criminal activities that have embarrassed the force.

It seems far more likely the authorities have strong suspicions as to which officers are working with criminal elements but do not have enough evidence to fire or prosecute them, a position hinted at by one officer when he said, “The commissioner-general is carrying out a purge with all the tools and weapons the law gives us, which is why in this case he is acting administratively by making the necessary transfers.”

Chihuri has reportedly been alarmed by information reaching him that businessmen and politicians have been extorted by top officers in his name, while some criminals have sought to co-opt security forces in a bid to cover up their crimes.

There have been previous incidences of police using gung-ho tactics to expropriate property, while corruption throughout the country is rife, and goes up to high levels.

Tenderere, who was officer commanding Licence Inspectorate in Harare district, was transferred to Nkayi under as yet unclear circumstances.

According to police sources, a communication or “radio” notifying the transfer of Tenderere was released last week amid claims by Godfrey and Loice Shekede, operators of Outdoor Living firm, that the top cop tried to wrest control of their company from them.

“The radio talking about his (transfer) was released last week and I think by now he is there,” a top police source told the Daily News.

“This happened when those issues were raised. Everything is known by the commissioner-general,” the police source said.

The Shekedes, in a detailed report submitted to Chihuri, implicated commissioner Oliver  Chibage, who was forced to resign last week, chief superintendent Tenderere and a retired army major Chademana, to have waged a battle to ensure that the couple was removed from Outdoor Living Centre, a stone and slate miners and purveyors based in Msasa.

Shekede claimed that the police commanders were harassing her to an 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.

But Chibage had earlier on denied being involved in any corrupt activities saying “Munhu wacommissioner angaita zvinhu zvakadaro? Ini ndiri busy kuno kugadzira nezveMiss Universities. (Do you think I would do that? I am busy organising the Miss Universities contest),” he said.

However, sources told the Daily News that the claims by Shekede, a litany of allegations against senior police officers, instigated the transfer of Tenderere to Matabeleland North Province.

“The move was to give him time to reform and probably be cleaned from such activities,” a source said.

Several attempts to get a comment from Tenderere failed as his mobile phone was unreachable yesterday.

In a bid to have Tenderere and his team out of Outdoor Living, Shekede took the matter twice to the High Court.

Justice Happias Zhou handed a damning ruling describing the top cop and his group as greedy people.

“The matter presents a sordid picture of a culture of wanting to reap where persons did not sow,” Justice Zhou said in the damning February 2013 ruling.

Before being taken to Justice Zhou, the matter had also been dealt with by Justice Felistas Chatukuta on September 28, in 2011, who ruled that Tenderere and his group should stop interfering with the operations of the company and that they should cease occupation of both the company premises and the residential property.

Shekede, in the report to Chihuri, claimed that soon after Justice Chatukuta’s ruling, she was immediately arrested while leaving the High Court, further alleging blatant abuse of police powers by the “renegade” top cops.

She claims that she was taken to Tenderere’s office where she was threatened and accused of being a prostitute.

“On September 28, 2011, they organised my arrest on trumped up theft charges by Sergeant Supurayi of Harare Central CCU as I was leaving the High Court,” the report says.

“He handcuffed me and walked me all the way to Tenderere’s office. I spent one hour being insulted and he threatened to rape me because ‘you are essentially a prostitute pretending to be a decent housewife, just like a hyena in sheepskin’,” read the report.

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