If you were having coffee with me I would be glad to have you visit and tell you have I got the tea for you. In an old post, I once joked about having coffee with the police… well, news flash, our police service don’t serve coffee or any other beverages for that matter, so, I was a guest of the state for a couple of hours I do not recommend.
My day started pretty ordinary, I had plans and people to see, I mean seriously, would anyone get into town for no reason, even if they have eased the COVID restrictions. So, there I was sitting on a park bench in Harare’s first street waiting for an appointment, drinking my water which may or may not have been laced with vodka, for medicinal purposes, of course.
If you were having coffee with I would tell you that I had been contemplating the complete lack in unease of getting into town, as a fellow blogger Titus_Ruku commented on my previous post Of Coffee With Grass vs The People; if you don’t have your own car you better have a fat wallet when you go into town.
It’s a logistical nightmare, you wait by the roadside and hope a fellow motorist will give you a lift and that they will charge you a reasonable fee, while also keeping your fingers crossed that they don’t have any nefarious intentions. If you get into a pirate taxi then be prepared to brace for some reckless driving as they do evasive manoeuvres to counter the police and of course, you cant see anything from the boarded-up windows.
So, there I was, park bench, thinking about all the “incidences” from my forays into town the past week; when a company of police officers descend on me, saying that I am under arrest for not wearing a mask correctly. I tried to explain that I was drinking water, alone, on a park bench but of course the constables took it as a challenge to their authority going on a rant of how I had been sitting there for over half an hour with my mask down and put handcuffs on me for resisting arrest.
If you were having coffee with me I would tell you maybe I would have protested further if my water was 100% Pure Water which it may or may not have been. I figured let me be a law-abiding citizen and go pay my fine for not wearing a mask which was the equivalent of $2 or so, its not even that much and bore the humiliation of having handcuffs on my hands for the first time ever in my life.
One officer who was helping me navigate past potholes and traffic on account of my difficulties in walking with hands cuffed behind my back then kindly offered they could remove my handcuffs, but I would have to give them my phone as a surety that I would not try any funny business like running away. It was an easy enough choice to make, I didn’t even think about it, gave them my phone and my handcuffs were removed…
If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that I was perfectly civil and didn’t even ask the police officers how come their masks weren’t covering their noses as well and I walked leisurely behind them watching them chase after people not properly wearing their masks. At the Central Police Station we were all herded into a parking lot shade and kept there, till it was one’s turn to pay the fine.
The process was surprisingly very complicated or may be they just want to punish you extra so you never want to be arrested. I got arrested at around 10 am and only managed to pay my fine at 6pm and and through out this time was just packed in the parking lot… One officer made a grand speech about how this was their domain and they could keep us detained for upto 48 hours without needing to explain why they had us detained…
(I was even wondering if anyone would know what happened to me and this a few days after the 6th year anniversary of the disappearance of Itai Dzamara) One fellow arrested person who tried to take a video of the police officer, was told if they cant prove they are a journalist then they would be in really big trouble for recording police officers at work.
Occasionally a name would be called to go and pay the fine and you would be expected to know the name, rank and force number of your arresting officer… Hello, how would you know all that? Those who had connections or probably paid some sort of bribe got released faster while the rest of us just languished there for hours and hours…
The somewhat sympathetic police officer seemed surprised to see I was still at the police just as they were about to end their shift and finally said I could pay my fine… And by the way, the the fine money is 200 Bond cash and not Ecocash and you cant use a card to swipe for payment after 4pm; oh and they don’t accept United States Dollars, fun stuff… There’s a business opportunity for an entrepreneur who wants to provide people with bond notes to pay police fines.
If I get COVID I know where I got it, at the police station packed with hundreds of other people….
If you were having coffee with me I would tell you schools are supposed to open starting tomorrow Monday the 15th with exam classes, even though some teachers are said to be refusing the 25% pay hike and set to start an industrial call of incapacitation.
Meanwhile, as our covid vaccine campaign continues, police have arrested more people than have been vaccinated, (maybe they should just turn police stations into vaccination centres); the president of Tanzania is said to have COVID and being treated in Kenya by unconfirmed sources; which would be ironic after he declared that there was no COVID in Tanzania and refused to have vaccination programmes…
If your week was going terribly, I would say at least you are not these guys in Warri Delta State, Nigeria who caught a Blue Marlin fish worth 2,6 million and simply killed and ate it…
Whats going on in your neck of the woods?
PS Miss Good Cop made a follow up phonecall to see if I arrived home ok, the police can be so friendly when they want to be.