PO Box 22148
February 5, 2012
Ms. Stella Libongani
Inspector General of Police
Zambia Police Service
RE: CONDUCT OF TRAFFIC POLICE OFFICERS IN THE COPPERBELT
Kindly refer to the above subject matter.
I hereby wish to officially register my complaint with your office regarding the conduct of some traffic police officers here on the Copperbelt.
On March 1, 2012 around 08:00 hours, I was driving from Kitwe to Ndola when I came across a traffic police checkpoint at Kakolo resettlement area along the Ndola/Kitwe dual carriageway, about 14 kilometres out of the city of Kitwe. What attracted my immediate concern wasn’t the checkpoint that early in the morning during rush hour per se but the fact that all the three officers manning the said checkpoint were sergeants from Ndola central police station.
After examining my vehicle, one of the officers, a heavily built gentleman in his forties, charged me for failing to fasten my seat belt and accordingly asked me to pay K180, 000 on the spot! I argued with the officer that my understanding was that Zambia Police had recently issued a directive to the effect that traffic police officers should stop collecting cash from motorists who violate any traffic rule but should instead just charge them and let them pay the fine at a local police station within 7 seven working days. To my disappointment, the officer in question retorted, “We now have a new Inspector General of Police; just pay the fine otherwise we are going to impound your vehicle!”
In the meantime I observed that there were also three other motorists who had got there before me. Their vehicles had pulled over and I could see that they were busy “negotiating” with one of the officers sited in a police vehicle, registration number ZP 846 B. In due course a sleek 4X4 Toyota Landcruiser drew up. The policeman wasted no time in signalling the muzungu who was behind the wheel to proceed. I could see that the gentleman was shaking his head sardonically as he watched the people “hanging” by the windows of the police car probably pleading for forgiveness or offering bribes. When I asked the officers to give me their names, they threatened to lock me up and one of them actually roughed me up.
As I drove farther on, I found another checkpoint near Baluba Motel; the officers were from Luanshya. When I asked them whether they were aware there was another checkpoint at Kakolo, which is under the jurisdiction of Kitwe Police, by officers from Ndola I was advised to lodge my complaint at Ndola central police station.
Madam Inspector General of Police, it is sad to note that unnecessary checkpoints are back on our busy roads and some officers seem to be enjoying mounting them at will as this definitely presents them a golden opportunity to abuse the system. To add weight to this assertion, allow me to cite another example. On Tuesday, March 6, 2012, I came across a speed trap that was mounted by officers from Kitwe central police station at a place called “16 feet” as you approach Kitwe from Ndola. They were driving a police vehicle, registration number ZP 1912B. As a concerned citizen, I decided to deliberately pull over near the check point and pretended to be working on my car.
Shortly, a Toyota corolla coming from the direction of town was promptly flagged down by one of the officers for overspending. A lady emerged from the said car and explained to the officer that she was rushing her child to Wusakile mine hospital. The officer ignored her excuse and asked her to pay K180, 000 failure to which they would impound her vehicle. She pleaded with them that she didn’t have that kind of money on her and asked them to reduce the fine instead. She offered a K50, 000 which they asked her to drop in their vehicle. No receipt was issued! This incident was witnessed by the president of Press Association of Zambia Mr. Andrew Sakala who also happened to be on the scene during the material time. Honestly, should we allow a few corrupt officers continue “spoiling” the good name of the police and indeed the country at large with impunity?
On several occasions, our President Mr. Michael C. Sata, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has declared that he is allergic to corruption. Now if officers who are expected to uphold the law of the land to the later can be seen to be “soliciting” bribes in broad daylight, what message are we sending to the general public more especially to potential investors and the donor community?
The young people, more especially the minibus and taxi drivers, that overwhelmingly voted for change of government expected corruption by some traffic officers to have gone with the previous MMD regime but it seems things are still the same or getting worse.
In order to add to any efforts that your office may be undertaking to rid the traffic department of corrupt activities, I therefore wish to propose the following:
Government must consider reducing traffic fines; this way, motorists who break traffic rules wouldn’t be forced to enter into negotiations of any kind with traffic police officers in order to get off the hook.
Traffic police officers must not be allowed to move around with receipt books but instead offenders should be given a grace period in which to settle the fine at a nearest police station.
Police officers must wear badges that bear their names and service numbers all the time.
RTSA should consider mounting a nationwide campaign to educate the masses on the kind of penalties that various traffic offences attract; currently, it seems many people are “ignorant” of the kind of fines that apply for various traffic offences.
I have no doubt that once implemented, this would help curb corruption in the traffic department of Zambia Police Service.
Yours in national service,
Prince Bill M. Kaping’a
Member of the Lunda Royal Establishment
CC: Minister of Home Affairs
Secretary General – Patriotic Front
Director General – Anti Corruption Commission
The Chairman – Public Police Complaints Commission
Executive Director – RTSA
The Commanding Officer – Copperbelt Province
All media houses