THE law should be respected and offering bribes to the police to allow one to continue flouting the law should not be tolerated, a Bulawayo provincial magistrate has said.
Tavengwa Sangster said corruption was difficult to detect and almost impossible to eradicate hence when it is brought to the fore, the culprits must be punished.
He spoke as he slapped two kombi drivers and a conductor with an effective 18-month jail term each for attempting to bribe police officers who had arrested them at separate roadblocks in Bulawayo.
The two kombi drivers, Cuthbert Gumpo (56) from Pumula South, Evidence Ngwenya (24) Village 2 Llewellin and a conductor Prosper Mubango (31) from Nketa 7 pleaded guilty to bribery as defined in Section 170 (1) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
The trio were initially sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment each before 12 months were suspended on condition that for five years, they were not found guilty of a similar crime.
In passing the sentence, Sangster said the accused’s conduct was not acceptable.
“It is a known fact that the Government is currently on a drive to fight corruption. The fight against corruption has resulted with the setting up of a number of anti-corruption units which are meant to spearhead the fight against corruption, this includes this court. That duty can’t be taken lightly.
“Corruption is difficult to detect and almost impossible to eradicate. When it is brought to the fore it must be swept clean,” charged Sangster.
He said the accused being kombi drivers and a conductor, they meet a number of roadblocks along the way, hence they need to understand that the law was there to protect all road users including themselves.
“They should not pay their way out and possibly endanger other road users. Offering bribes to the police to allow one to continue flouting the law should not be tolerated. The law should be respected.
It’s unfortunate that the police officers whom the accused approached were not weaklings hence they did not accede to the temptation of accepting the said bribes. Anything to do with corruption should be taken seriously. This is a serious offence. A fine will only trivialise the offence,” further charged Sangster.
The court heard that on 11 June 2022 and at around 3:45pm, Ngwenya who was driving a Toyota Hiace along Harare Road was stopped when he got to Mahatshula turn-off where police officers were manning a roadblock.
Ngwenya had no route authority yet he was carrying passengers was then arrested and advised that he was to be escorted to ZRP Queens Park to pay a fine.
Instead of complying, Ngwenya took out a R100 and offered it to the police officer so that he could release him without following proper procedure. The move however, backfired when the police officer arrested him for trying to bribe him.
On the same day and at around 4:30pm Gumpo who was also driving a Toyota Hiace was arrested at Corner Cecil Avenue and Harare Road where police were manning a roadblock.
This was after the police checked his vehicle and advised him of the offence of having no route authority and that he was carrying an insecure load.
When the police advised him that he was under arrest and that he was to be escorted to ZRP Queens Park to pay a fine, Gumpo instead of complying he took US$4 in US$1 notes and offered it to the police officer so that he would release him without following proper procedure. The move backfired when he was subsequently arrested and was taken to Queens Park Police Station.
The court further heard that on the same day and at around 4pm Mubango who was a conductor of a Nissan Caravan which was being driven by his father was also arrested when he attempted to bribe one of the police officers manning a road block at corner Harare Road and Mahatshula turn-off.
It was proven that when they arrived at the roadblock and the police asked the kombi to park at the side of the road and Mubango instead of complying he took out US$2 in US$1 notes and offered it to one of the police officers so that he would allow him passage.
Instead of taking the money the police officer arrested him for bribing him so that he could allow him passage without following proper procedure of checking the vehicle.