Counterfeit cops

24 03 2014

Thursday, 11h20 and I am driving north along Golden Stairs road to go to Bob’s engineering shop to get some minor welding done on the battery bracket of my Land Cruiser. The lights on The Chase are green, I don’t need to slow down. A police marked BMW pulls out of a slip road after I pass and rolls slowly down the road behind me, holding up the traffic. I watch it in the rear view mirror and wonder how they have already managed to get only one headlight working. In nearly 40 years of driving I have always had two working headlights.

I turn left into Prices Road and slow down for the speed humps. A car tries to pass me, hooting. I ignore it. He can wait until the road is wider. He tries again so I think the twit can pass; it’s safer that way, so I ease over. He draws alongside. Hoots again and I see two policemen in the unmarked car. They tell me to pull over. I know I have done nothing wrong so am already suspicious.

“Why didn’t you pull over?” they demand.

“You are in an unmarked car and how am I supposed to see you are wearing uniforms in my rear view mirror.” I get a good look at them. One is wearing the brown police uniform with cap and yellow traffic vest. The other, with noticeably protruding teeth is in the grey uniform of a junior constable.

“You went through a red light back there”.

“No I did not” I retort as the blood pressure rises.

“We saw you go through” they reply.

“Well that is indeed surprising as the MARKED police BMW at the lights did not stop me”.

“So what colour was the light then?”

Now this is a really stupid question having just told me I went through a red light. “Green. Look, if you have a problem with this we can go and discuss it at Marlborough police station” I retort, my patience wearing thin. The effect of this challenge is immediate.

“Well, we are just letting you go with a warning then”.

What is this? A WARNING for going through a red light? I drive off slowly and remember the car registration plate; ADG3020. I recount the story to Bob when I get there and he tells me of a near identical incident he had near the Mukuvisi Woodlands game park on the way to the airport. He also stood his ground and they gave up.

On the way back to work I call in at the Marlborough police station and report the incident. The woman officer is quite excited and pleased I got down the registration number but I tell her it has almost certainly changed already.

Were they ordinary criminals in stolen police uniforms or genuine police trying their luck? Shelton told me I did well to get their number plate but cautioned against getting aggressive when I suggested I should have just run them off the road. He said one cannot be sure they wouldn’t pull a weapon out. When using the local minibuses he never gets in one unless there are other people in it or he recognizes the tout or the driver. It seems Harare is not as safe as it used to be.



2 responses

25 03 2014

Ever thought of getting one of those little cameras which go behind the rear view mirror? Some insurance companies insist on them to counter false claims, people breaking sharply enough to get rear ended then claiming for whiplash etc!

30 03 2014

No, but I did think that Google Glass was perhaps not such a daft idea after all!

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