Beitbridge rural police have been accused of covering up for a colleague who stands accused of shooting a minibus staff member in an alleged violent demand for a bribe.

Ushe Tasara was shot on the thigh by one of the police officers who disappeared into the night abandoning their bleeding victim, who was later ferried to hospital by relatives.

Police also left the minibus passengers stranded after immobilising the vehicle by shooting one of the tyres.

To add insult to injury, the cops later arrested their victim and his two relatives who have since been charged with obstructing the course of justice.

Pedzai Tasara (35) and Aaron Tasara (28) have already appeared before Beitbridge resident magistrate Zhou who granted them bail of $1 000 each.

Zhou’s court on Friday sat at Beitbridge Hospital’s male ward where Tasara is recovering from the gunshot wound.

In their request for remand of case BTB 114/16/20, police recommended to the state the denial of bail on the grounds that the accused were likely to flee to South Africa and that a firearm they allegedly wielded against police prior to the shooting was yet to be recovered.

Jabulani Mzinyathi, appearing for the three, successfully applied for bail, resulting in armed police being assigned to guard the injured and hospitalised Tasara to make sure he does not leave the hospital.

The version of the charges by the police has, however, been dismissed as false by some policemen stationed at Beitbridge who accused their colleagues of covering up for a wrong.

A passenger who was on the minibus also dismissed the police version of the midnight events of last Wednesday.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was receiving conflicting statements, but thorough investigations were underway to establish the true facts in the matter.

We will investigate the case and you may also assist us with what you may have found out, he said.

Nyathi said the minibus in question was carrying smuggled goods and had been taken to the border where passengers were made to pay fines for smuggling.

People should comply with Customs and Excise regulations and declare goods. In this case, we hear the smugglers disobeyed police instructions resulting in shots being fired at the minibus, he said.

We have anti-smuggling units at all borders deployed to ensure that people comply and people should declare all in their possession to relevant officials.

Investigations by The Standard revealed that a Tasso minibus travelling from Beitbridge to Zvishavane was stopped by police manning a roadblock at Chicago Village 10km from Beitbridge along the Harare highway.

Police asked for R300 at that roadblock where the driver and conductor were called to their searchlight, said Memory Zhou, who was on the minibus.

She said after a brief discussion they were allowed to proceed after the minibus crew phoned their employers who were driving to the roadblock to settle the payment.

Zhou said after passing the tollgate, they saw a car flagging them down, but they urged the driver not to stop fearing robbers.

Later we saw it was the police chasing us in a private vehicle and we stopped. Almost immediately the police jumped in and one took over the wheel, saying they were driving us back to the roadblock because the owners of the minibus who had promised them money were not being cooperative, Zhou said.

She said soon after that, another private car carrying the owners of the minibus arrived and overtook their minibus with the driver signalling them to stop.

The policeman did not stop the minibus, but instead, swerved and hit the other car and the scared passengers started to scream. That was when the policeman on the wheel stopped the minibus and jumped out with his colleague carrying an AK47 and proceeded towards the other car, she said.

Almost suddenly the policeman with the gun opened fire towards the kombi hitting the man at the wheel of the minibus before the two policemen, realising they had shot a person, disappeared into the dark, Zhou said.

The shooting victim was taken to hospital while the rest returned to Beitbridge where Customs and Excise found everything was in order.

Source: African News Agency