Source: Illegal forex vending sucks in cops | The Herald July 18, 2019
GOVERNMENT efforts to eliminate illegal foreign currency dealers from the streets of Harare are being hampered by the involvement of some unscrupulous police officers in the illicit trade, The Herald can reveal.
Investigations by The Herald revealed that a number of detectives are now part-time foreign currency vendors, offering a shield to the other full-time dealers on the streets.
While police officers are mandated with elimination of crime, including illegal foreign currency dealings, some rogue elements have decided to be part of the criminal enterprise.
In times of police raids, the corrupt detectives get the prior information and alert their fellow dealers to briefly disappear.
The developments came at a time Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) was carrying out an operation to cleanse the city of the illegal foreign currency traders.
At least 2 600 illegal foreign currency vendors have this year been arrested in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Masvingo.
Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the operation was ongoing, but none of the officers are authorised to engage in foreign currency dealings.
He said those caught dealing in foreign currency will be arrested.
“Any information of officers engaging in these illegal dealings of foreign currency should be brought to the attention of relevant authorities so that they are brought to book,” said Asst Com Nyathi.
However, some officers are taking advantage of the operations to engage in unsanctioned “participatory” activities for their personal gain.
A visit by The Herald to various foreign currency vending spots in Harare revealed that a number of police officers, who are supposed to be enforcing the law, are among the culprits.
The Herald crew has been monitoring activities at Eastgate Mall, where most illegal dealers do their businesses and identified at least three regular female vendors, who turned out to be detectives based at Harare Central Police Station.
A female detective assistant inspector (name withheld), who is known as Mai Titi in the illegal foreign currency trade, was captured on camera on different occasions changing money at the corner of Speke Avenue and Sam Nujoma Street, near Eastgate Shopping Mall.
She appeared restless, walking up and down Sam Nujoma, only to stop whenever she found clients.
Another woman, who later turned out to be a constable in the police service, was also caught on camera transacting in foreign currency at the same spot for almost three consecutive days.
At no point did any of the two effect any arrests during the period of observation, but they were always busy illegally trading foreign currency.
Other vendors at the spot confirmed that the two were detectives, but they described them as harmless.
“We feel comfortable having them around because they protect us.
“If their colleagues are coming for raids, we get a tip-off and disappear for a while until they pass.
“They are part of us and they always mind their own businesses,” said the vendor.
Another vendor said a number police officers were involved in foreign currency dealings and they are saved by their service identity cards.
“Many police officers are part of us here and in times of raids, they simply produce their identification cards.
“At times they are taken to the police cells together with us, only to be released in a few minutes.
“At times, they alert us when their colleagues are coming for raids,” said the vendor.
He confirmed being arrested on several encounters and only paid bribes to those who would have arrested him.
“At times we negotiate with officers who would have arrested us so that we do not go to prison or sleep in cells.
“If our negotiations fail, we end up paying $30 fine, which is insignificant considering the nature of our business,” she said.
A woman trading in foreign currency along First Street confirmed befriending some police officers in the same illegal business for her security during raids.