50 Harare touts arrested in new clampdown

Harare touts being arrested (Picture courtesy of NewsDay)

By Alex Bell
11 January 2013

Months after Zimbabwe police launched an intense cleanup operation to rid Harare bus ranks of touts and marshals, a fresh clampdown has seen 50 more people arrested this week.

Last September a police operation saw about 500 suspected touts and rank marshals arrested after worsening violence and intimidation aimed at commuter omnibus drivers in Harare. The operation targeted suspected members of the ‘mandimbandimba’, who were posing as touts and forcing minibus drivers to hand over ‘protection fees’.

The situation had normalised after the mass arrests. But in recent weeks touts have started resurfacing.

SW Radio Africa’s Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa reported Friday that the touts have been particularly active in the early mornings and evening. He said they have been seen carrying dangerous weapons like knives, knobkerries and pangas, and have been threatening violence to intimidate bus drivers into paying the two dollar ‘fee’.

“A group was arrested this week and they were in the Harare Magistrates’ court today. Most were ordered to pay a US$40 fine,” Muchemwa reported.

He added: “Last year when the touts were arrested, many were given short prison stays. The return of touts now is an indication to many that the rule of law has completely broken down.”

The ‘mandimbandimba’ were originally linked to the notorious ZANU PF youth gang, Chipangano, who were collecting thousands of dollars a month from the illegal ‘protection fee’ collection at bus ranks.

But Muchemwa said Friday that many touts are not necessarily linked to the gang anymore.

“In Zimbabwe unemployment is more than 90% and many of these people don’t have any other way of making money. Especially in January, which is a difficult time and there are even less jobs,” Muchemwa reported.

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4 Responsesto “50 Harare touts arrested in new clampdown”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Mandimbandimba kumusha kundorima rather than wasting time robbing commuter bus drivers. These people used to rob people at Mbare Musika under the name Chipangano. If ZANU(PF) is the people`s party , it should these groups from turnishing their image.

  2. Nkalanga says:

    To allege that touts are linked to Chipangano is to play an uncessary political propaganda. Touts have mannered our roads as far back as I can remember: 1990s to date. You drive to Byo and want to pick one or two passengers at Agric Show Ground, they are, and have always been there. The reverse journey, emagamutree koByo, there are there. Renkeni Byo they are there. Mbare they are there. kudzanai in Gweru there are there. Let the police clean this messy without linking these guys to the Chipangano group.

    • Yepec says:

      You cannot pick one over the other, they are all used by or are a part of the Zanu PF, coercive (violence) machinery. Police should clean the whole mess up. Even the late General Solomon Mujuru, could support the proposition, he was killed at his Farm by somebody in his own car, of course, he had grabbed the farm from someone else.

      • Nkalanga says:

        I beg to differ. The touts and Chipangano are two different set of young men. Their only similarities is that they are motivated by unemployment (therefore are hungry). The touts are not being used by ZANU-PF’s coercive state machinery to do what they do, but their lack of employment is an outcome of ZANU-PF’s governance and economic mismanagement over the years. Chipangano I agree that they are part of the ZANU-PF coercive machinery. Both are a nonsense to the public and the police can rightfully deal with them in the policing way. But the underlining problem goes back to the government/state who should create employment opportunities for young men.

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