THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) which runs an unverified Twitter account that regularly updates the nation on crime alerts and busting activities daily, is at war with a Twitter ghost.
The law enforcement agency was infuriated after an unidentified Zimbabwean opened a Twitter account with the handle @PoliceZimb, which uses the ZRP insignia.
Police uses the handle @PoliceZimbabwe.
In a statement posted on its recognized Twitter page, police vowed to come down hard on the impersonator who it alleges committed a criminal act by their actions.
But the hypocrisy by Police to spend resources hunting for a Twitter ghost while leaving real people with similar cases walking scotfree is astounding.
Two weeks ago, HourlyHits reported that Passion Java had placed himself in the way of possible arrest for breaching provisions of the Police Act.
This was after the self-styled prophet pictured wearing a female police officer’s hat, with the unidentified policewoman watching akimbo behind Java.
The image has outraged some Zimbabweans who called for his arrest and prosecution for breaching a provision of the Police Act.
The law says any person who wears a police uniform, badge or button shall, unless he or she is a member of the Police, is guilty of a criminal offence and liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
According to the Police Act:
Any person who wears any uniforms or distinctive badge or button of the Police Force or anything which might reasonably be mistaken for any such uniform, badge or button as to be likely to deceive, shall, unless — (a) he is a member of the Police Force entitled by reason of his appointment, rank or designation to wear such uniform, badge or button; or (b) he has been granted permission by the Commissioner to wear such uniform, badge or button; be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment. [Amended by Act 22 of 2001, with effect from the 10th September, 2002].
The public demanded that police act on the matter, citing a 2015 case when a Harare entrepreneur was charged and fined for wearing police regalia when he was not a member of the force.
Under pressure, police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said investigations into the Java case had been initiated. However, Nyathi did not mention either Java or the female officer by name, but and chose to be academic about the incident.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police has taken note of a photo circulating on social media in which a female Police officer is seen standing next to a man wearing a Police hat.
“Investigations are underway and a detailed statement will be issued after completion of Investigations,” said Nyathi.
Two weeks down the line, Java is walking scotfree, the public is still waiting for a “detailed statement” and the police is frothing at the mouth over a parody Twitter ghost whose posts have been more of political comic than hard-core crime.
When power changed hands from Robert Mugabe to Emmerson Mnangagwa, it was everyone’s hope that the era of one law for the connected political elites and another law for the commoners was past us.
This leads to the question: Is this the same reason why the country’s fight against corruption has netted only a handful “small fish” while the powerful and corrupt find cover from among their friends at the top of the food chain?
If police cannot charge Java over a crime for which he could get away with a fine of probably US$100 (very small change to Java), can any reasonable persom expect the same police to arrest him on much bigger crimes?
With a high corruption index and all sorts of negative perception indices coming out against Zimbabwe, our police must realize that they contribute to these vital statistics by way of commission or omission.
The indices affect how the entire nation is perceived by the world of finance and business capital. Shall all Zimbabweans suffer from diminishing foreign direct investments all because on Passion Java is untouchable?
We hope, as sure does most Zimbabweans, that police will act on all acts of crime big or small with the same zeal and without fear or favour. Isn’t that’s what any self-respecting law enforcement agency does?