It is wrong for Police traffic officers to demand fire extinguishers from drivers who do not drive public service vehicles, police public relations officer Charity Munganga has said.
But traffic police officers at roadblocks have continued extorting money from private vehicle drivers without fire extinguishers in their vehicles.
Ms Munganga said in an interview that only public service vehicle (PSV) drivers were commanded under the Traffic Act to have fire extinguishers.
She was reacting to complaints from some motorists who complained about rampant acts of corruption involving the servicemen and women who pounce on non-PSV drivers demanding fire extinguishers in their vehicles .
Ms Munganga said it was disheartening that some officers have continued soliciting bribes and charging drivers with flimsy offences when they were aware of the Traffic Act.
She said it was also unfortunate that the police were thriving on people’s ignorance of traffic offences and fines.
Ms Munganga urged motorists to report cases of corruption so that erring officers would be brought to book.
A motorist Isaac Phiri complained that the police arrested him although he was driving a private car motor which had no fire extinguisher and later paid a K30 bribe to be released.
Mr Phiri charged that police were harassing innocent motorists and were in the habit of impounding private cars even on charges that did not require the police to impound a motor vehicle.
“I just used to hear that there is corruption in the police but what I have experienced with the police in Lusaka is very disturbing, There is no way a policeman can be asking for a bribe from a citizen with such impunity.
Another motorist George Mwanza said the police arrested him because he was driving a vehicle without insurance and road fitness, although he had sufficient proof from his documents that he was taking the car for inspection at the Road Transport and Safety Agency, while he had a written booking for insurance inspection on the same day.
“I was made to look foolish. I was reduced to a beggar in trying to get the police officers to understand that there was no way I could get my car for road fitness and insurance inspection without driving it on the roads where I was impounded. These are the people who are tarnishing the good name of the service,” he said. The motorists have appealed to Home Affairs Minister Davis Mwila and Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja to discipline the police officers who were mounting roadblocks in the townships as early as 06:00 hours, intimidating and stealing from the public
“We expect the Government to address such things because the new Government promised to improve a lot of things for the bus drivers, but we are not seeing anything,” they said.
The motorists added that the media in Zambia should not focus on reporting corruption involving politicians alone, but also report on petty corruption in the police, adding that many innocent people were suffering because of being oppressed by the police, who are expected to serve the people.