Sithatshisiwe Vuma, Sunday News Reporter
TWO Bulawayo City Council officials were on Friday arrested after they were caught red handed demanding bribes from vendors, by a member of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), Mr Divine Mhambi Hove, who handed them to police.
Mr Hove, leader of the Nationalists Alliance Party, who was recently allocated a car by President Mnangagwa, was reportedly on a fact finding mission at the popular 5th Avenue Market in Bulawayo. Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said they were investigating the matter after the arrest of the two officials, Msolina Moyo and Sipho Ndlovu.
“I can confirm that two Bulawayo city council officials were arrested and we are still investigating the case of corruption which seems to have been going on for a while,” said Insp Ncube.
Mr Hove told Sunday News that while he was on the fact-finding mission to see how vendors were operating during this Covid-19 era, some of them alerted him that council officials have been forcing vendors to pay them a certain amount in order to secure their stock.
“On Friday when I was at the market I saw about five city council vehicles impounding vendors’ stock, there was chaos and vendors running away with their stock. About 30 minutes later the vehicles disappeared. I was confronted by some of the vendors who asked me to help them because BCC officials were now coming back, this time without cars collecting money from every stand so that they do not impound their stuff,” said Mr Hove.
Mr Hove said he observed how the council officials were demanding the money from the vendors while also recording the acts on his mobile phone.
“I was shooting a video from a distance with my phone until they noticed that I was following them, they went in different directions.
“However, I managed to capture them and they started to plead with me to have mercy saying they were willing to offer me any amount,” he said.
He, however, reported the matter to Bulawayo Central Police Station leading to their arrest.
“I am not happy with what the BCC is doing to vendors, we are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and they are busy collecting bribes from the public instead of doing their job,” he said.
Vendors also said they were now sick and tired of the officials.
“We pay for the stall to council but after that they come back and demand that we pay US$1 each or they impound our stock.
“Last week after I refused to pay a bribe they later came to my stall and took away 10 pockets of oranges,” said a vendor who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.