BY THOMAS CHIDAMBA
The Zimbabwe Passenger Transport Organisation (ZPTO) has pleaded with government to clamp down on touts terrorising commuters at various bus termini across the country.
The plea came after a video of Beitbridge touts harassing a hapless woman went viral on social media last week.
The unidentified woman is seen being mobbed by 10 touts, while her luggage is taken away.
The “victorious” touts finally force her to board their preferred bus.
“ZPTO has noted with concern a video circulating on social media platforms of a woman who was being violently dragged and being forced to board a bus by rank marshals in Beitbridge,” bus operators’ chairperson Samson Nhanhanga said.
“We condemn this behaviour by these rank marshals. The association has engaged relevant ministries and policymakers so as to deal with matters relating to the abuse of passengers at all designated bus stations countrywide.”
Nhanhanga stressed that passengers had a freewill to choose which bus to board and that rank marshals must not violate that right.
“We would want to emphasise that violence against women is a punishable offence. Human rights must be respected at all times. Passengers should be treated with dignity and should freely choose a bus they want to board while observing social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
The incident has triggered a public outcry, with Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni declaring war on the rank marshals. “Eventually, we want touts be removed from all bus termini. Public spaces must be safe for all. Law enforcement agents will not tolerate such behaviour,” she said. “My ministry has engaged relevant government departments and local authorities to nip these inhumane acts of gender-based violence in the bud.”
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