Over 100 pirate taxis were on Wednesday reportedly impounded by police in Chinhoyi after some drivers celebrated the death of Sergeant Freddy Chipato, an escort motorbike rider who was killed on Good Friday.
Chipato, an escort motorbike outrider, was on traffic clearance duties to pave way for First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s motorcade when he was killed.
His motorbike collided head-on with an oncoming Toyota Altezza and he died on the spot from the injuries he sustained from the crash.
Reports suggest that some unidentified motorists believed to be pirate taxi drivers drove to Chinhoyi Central Police Station’s main gate and started screeching tyres and sounding hooters.
Chipato was allegedly notorious for demanding bribes from motorists and touts. One of the drivers whose car was seized by the police told NewZimbabwe.com:
The police operation began early Wednesday morning. We heard from our police sources that what triggered the exercise was that some unidentified motorists came to the station and started skidding and sounding car horns.
Some arresting cops told us today they were punishing us for celebrating Chipato’s death.
Police are refusing to take admission of guilty fines and insisting they will only deal with us after two months and our cars will remain in police custody for the duration.
However, Mashonaland West police spokesperson, Inspector Margaret Chitove refuted claims that the clampdown on Mushikashika vehicles was in retaliation to the alleged celebrations.
Chitove said the blitz was aimed at eradicating lawlessness from the roads and regulating the public transport system. She said:
As Chinhoyi Traffic we are currently on an ongoing operation targeting ‘mushikashika’ (pirate taxis) and touts. We want to warn all those who are operating illegal taxis that we are not going back until sanity prevails in Chinhoyi.