A video circulating on social media including Facebook and Whatsapp shows a Zimbabwe Republic Police officer ‘riding’ on the back of a speeding kombi. One can only speculate as to how he ended up there, but most likely is that the officer had tried, and dramatically failed to stop the kombi at a road block. After a short period of time, during which the kombi speeds up, the officer attempts to jump ship, but ends up taking a hard fall, rolling on the tar, losing some possessions and apparently hurting his jaw. The video was recorded from a vehicle travelling behind the kombi, which then stops to pick him up with a casual “handeyi” (let’s go), as if to pursue the now fleeing lead kombi.
The total lawlessness, the danger, not just to the policeman but to other traffic, and the injuring of a policeman in this fashion would be met with outrage and horror in most places. But not in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, the ZRP and kombis have been engaged in a long-running, often violent, and totally corrupt war in which the big losers are the passengers in the kombis, the pedestrians on the sides of the roads, and other motorists. Indeed, the cat and mouse games between the two have even led to death, as in the case of a fatal hit and run inflicted on a four year old child last year as a kombi driver fled the police.
Little surprise then that this latest viral clip is being met with laughter. Whilst most road users wish ill on the recklessness of the notorious public transport drivers, the police face equal disdain for years of harassment of motorists, mostly over non-safety issues such as radio licenses or backwater stop signs. These encounters are traditionally an opportunity for the police to line their pockets, and constitute the bulk of the day-to-day corruption in Zimbabwe.
It is a shame to hear and read of people taking pleasure in this video in which there might easily have been more serious injuries, but the laughter is merely a symptom of a broken system, and perhaps Zimbabweans everywhere, feeling unsafe and harassed on our roads, are not to blame.
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