By Nqobile Tshili
Some rowdy pirate kombi crews operating in Bulawayo are reportedly plotting to attack traffic police officers at their homes in retaliation for skirmishes that occurred in the city centre last Wednesday.
Police have since warned the criminally inclined individuals that they will be arrested.
The skirmishes saw four police officers being attacked by suspected kombi crews consisting of touts and drivers, money changers and vendors.
This was after the cops had arrested a kombi driver who was driving a vehicle without number plates and had dropped passengers in the middle of the road along Herbert Chitepo Street between 5th and 6th Avenue in violation of traffic laws.
The mob attack left the four police officers hospitalised.
During the fracas, two kombis were burnt to shells and pirate crews have blamed the cops for the fire incidents.
Police said they only fired tear smoke to disperse crowds but kombi crews have said the fire was caused by the tear smoke.
However, fire experts have said tear smoke is not flammable hence it is impossible that it might have caused the fires.
Following Wednesday’s incidents, new details have emerged that illegal kombi crews are conspiring to attack police officers at their homes.
Chronicle is in possession of audios which were part of conversations by kombi crews on WhatsApp groups where some of the “thugs” were threatening to attack cops.
In one of the audios, one of the members is heard saying that it is not difficult to trail the officers who were at the scene on Wednesday.
“Let’s look for someone who will tell us where the police officers who were involved in this incident stay. I know where some of them stay but we need those who are responsible for burning the cars. They need to be identified so that we can approach them in their homes. These people go to the shops, can’t we find someone who can track them down? Let’s trace them, we will find whoever did this,” said one of the crew members.
“Just in a day, we would have caught them. It’s not like these people spend all of their time at Drill Hall (police offices). They also knock off and go to their homes, we need to follow them into their homes. We should not kill him or her but just deal with them.”
Another one concurred:
“You spoke like a man Mdu, we need to search for these people, raid their homes at night when they are with their families. We will knock at their doors and inform him or her that we want to see them and if they do not come out, we will threaten to burn their homes and them inside. They will tell us why they are doing this.”
Another suspected driver is heard saying that they should also consider trailing and cornering police officers while on patrol.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi warned the rowdy crews that it is a criminal offence to plot to commit a crime.
“It means these people are criminal minded or they are criminals. The moment you see someone agitating for violence, agitating to attack a certain individual, then that means that person is criminally inclined and the law has to take its course,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said citizens who have concerns with police conduct should report to the relevant police department or even their commanders.
“We are still conducting investigations into what happened last Wednesday. Secondly, anyone who has concerns or any contributions or any issues they should contact Officer Commanding Bulawayo Province (Commissioner Patton Mbangwa). I don’t encourage anyone to engage in unlawful acts because that is tantamount to committing a crime which warrants arrest and an individual to be taken to court for prosecution,” he said.
“We expect Zimbabweans to be law abiding citizens and if they have concerns, they should raise those concerns in a manner that does not cause alarm and despondency in communities.” The Chronicle