A total of 45 suspects were rounded up in the tense and swift police response action that literally brought business to a halt.
Heavily armed police officers numbering more than 40 circled the touts who were caught unawares. A tense atmosphere engulfed the whole area as the no-nonsense police officers left no stone unturned to arrest suspects, some of whom had fled from the scene and sought refuge in nearby vending stalls.
The fleeing suspects were chased and re-arrested, while those who blended in and tried to appear like ordinary citizens were fumigated and fished out of the multitudes and brought to the temporary detention arena. The arrested suspects were ordered to lie down on their bellies, while a police service truck shuttled them to Sakubva and Mutare Central police stations into holding cells.
Some of those arrested pleaded to be released, saying they were not part of the group that attacked the three police officers.
Deputy Officer Commanding Mutare Central District police, Superintendent Christopher Ncube said a total of 45 suspects were arrested during the raid.
He said the touts were resisting arrest and one of them ran away with handcuffs.
“We arrested a total of 45 touts who were causing problems at the bus terminus. Of late, we have been receiving a lot of reports of travellers being harassed and losing property. More often than not, these touts are responsible for the bulk of illegal activities and crimes that are perpetrated against innocent travelers at bus termini.
“Tuesday’s raid was one of the many operations being carried out to bring sanity.
At first we had three officers who patrolled the Sakubva Musika terminus, but they had difficulties in arresting the suspects who were resisting. One of the arrested suspects even ran away with handcuffs. In the afternoon we carried another raid which resulted in the arrest of 42 suspects,” he said.
Supt Ncube said police had declared an all-out war against touts.
“We are going to move around the district and ensure that illegal bus termini that have sprouted all over are disbanded.
Public transport vehicles must only conduct business at designated places not anywhere. We need to ensure that travelers are protected from criminal elements,” he said.
Sources close to Tuesday’s raid revealed that of the arrested 45 suspects, some of them were released following rigorous vetting, while others were fined.
However, some of them who were fingered in the brutal police attack were detained awaiting trial on charges of assaulting police officers. manica post