TWO daring bogus police officers appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts yesterday for allegedly mountiang a series of roadblocks at State House where they demanded bribes from motorists whom they accused of comprising President Robert Mugabe’s security by passing through the area.
The State House is a high security zone where pedestrians and motorists are forbidden to pass through between 6pm and 6am.
The suspects, Aaron Mugagani and Frazer Kabinara both from Chitungwiza and their alleged accomplices who are still at large, are alleged to have mounted the illegal checkpoints between January and August this year.
They allegedly threatened some motorists with torture and disappearance if they refused to pay the bribes.
Mugagani (34) and Kabinara (28) yesterday appeared before provincial magistrate Tendai Mahwe charged with extortion and impersonation and were remanded in custody to August 20 after their bail application was opposed by prosecutor Sharon Mashavira.
Seven motorists who allegedly fell prey to the trap are expected to testify in the matter.
Allegations against the two were that on January 21 this year, Pfumai Kwenje, who is the first complainant in the matter, was driving past State House when he was waved down to stop by Mugagani and Kabinara, who were clad in police uniforms.
The bogus cops accused Kwenje of ignoring traffic signs at the State House and ordered him to drive into the State House before confiscating his cellphone accusing him of having used the gadget in the area to communicate falsehoods about Mugabe.
Kwenje was warned that if he wanted to live, he was supposed to give the bogus cops all his valuables. Out of fear, Kwenje allegedly gave the two men $1 085 to avoid being taken for "torture" inside the State House walls.
In May, another victim, Tafirenyika Soko, drove past the State House proceeding to David Livingstone to pick up his children from school. As he parked his car, the two men allegedly approached him and accused him of talking on the cellphone while passing by the State House thereby compromising Mugabe’s security.
They threatened to impound his vehicle and take him into the State House grounds where his fate would be decided.
On their way towards State House, Soko was ordered to part with $500 for his release, but he managed to pay only $30 which was on his person.
The two men are said to have used the same modus operandi to swindle Kahondo Hilton, David Muzofa, Charles Zenda Muzanenhamo, Rangarirai Gwatiringa and Godfrey Duri.
Details of how the two men were arrested were not made available in the State papers, but they were positively identified by the complainants at an identification parade conducted at Harare Central Police Station.
In a related development, a Highlands, Harare, police officer appeared in court on Tuesday facing charges of mounting an illegal roadblock along Airport Road in Harare where he, together with his two alleged accomplices still at large, demanded bribes from motorists rushing to catch flights at Harare International Airport.
The suspect, Tobias Chitukudza (26), was charged with criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe granted him $500 bail and remanded the matter to August 19.