Anger As Touts Harrass Man to Death In Harare

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A Harare man died yesterday morning after he was manhandled by touts while intending to board a bus to Mutare near Roadport Bus Terminus along Robert Mugabe Road.

Mathias Gore of Glen Norah C was in the company of his family when the incident occurred around 5.30am. Gore, who was on his way to Mozambique, was also robbed of his wallet containing an undisclosed amount of cash and personal documents, including his passport.

When The Herald visited the scene, people were jostling to catch a glimpse of Mr Gore’s body while policemen were barring buses and touts from operating from the area. According to a neighbour, Simbarashe Mandivanzira who was accompanying the now deceased to Mozambique, they arrived at the bus terminus early in the morning intending to board a bus to Mutare en-route to Mozambique for a church service.

Onlookers mill around  the deceased's body.

Onlookers mill around the deceased’s body.

“When we arrived, some touts and conductors from a bus company called Smart Express started harassing and dragging Mr Gore in a bid to force him to board their bus, but he refused.

“We later boarded a bus from a company called Bodyguard and while in the bus, he informed his wife that he couldn’t breathe properly. We took him off the bus and removed the shoes and he passed on a few minutes later,” he said.

Mr Gore’s widow, Leticia said her husband was diabetic and hypertensive. She said it was very painful that they left home in a jovial mood only to come and lose her husband by the road side. National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said investigations were still in progress.

In this picture, Touts harass a woman at Mbare Musika last Sunday -(Picture by Tawanda Mudimu

In this picture, Touts harass a woman at Mbare Musika last Sunday -(Picture by Tawanda Mudimu

“Information we have so far is that touts pushed him and harassed him to force him to board buses which were not of his choice. During the process they mugged him and he lost money, his passport and other valuables which we are yet to verify. This is totally uncalled for and we are going to take action. That I can assure you,” he said.

Chief Supt Nyathi said they were going to engage the Harare City Council to ensure that bus operators are banned from the area. “The ZRP would like to express condolences to the family of the deceased and we want to make it clear that we are going to ensure that no bus or commuter omnibus would be allowed to pick up passengers from this area. We are going to engage the Harare Municipality and also direct them to ensure that this rank is abolished forthwith,” he said.

He said they were also going to ensure that all touts operating in and around the city were arrested for continuing to engage in illegal activities. “On a daily basis we arrest about 30 touts and most of them are taken to court where they are made to pay fines.

The deceased's wife Leticia Gore is consoled by Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba

The deceased’s wife Leticia Gore is consoled by Chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba

“We are appealing for all stakeholders in the judiciary system to ensure that deterrent penalties are instituted so that this tout menace is dealt with once and for all.

“We are also going to take action against operators who are picking up passengers from undesignated picking points and those who flout traffic rules and regulations,” Chief Supt Nyathi said.

He also warned police officers in the habit of taking money from touts to give them free reign that they faced arrest. Passenger Association of Zimbabwe President Mr Tafadzwa Goliati said last week they engaged the ZRP following an increase in cases in which passengers were being harassed by the touts.

“We notified the police on such cases and we informed them that this was rampant at Fourth Street, Showground, Mbare and KuMbudzi. It is very sad that such an incident has happened.

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“However, we are also accusing some of the operators who are giving them (police) money so that they load their vehicles and we are totally against that,” he said.

Mr Goliati said most of the touts operate under the influence of alcohol and drugs. “They are not genuine touts, but criminals and they should be send to court and jailed,” he said.

Greater Harare Association of Commuter Operators (GHACO) secretary-general, Mr Ngoni Katsvairo accused touts of extorting money from commuter omnibus crews.

“Of course they are some operators who use these people to load their vehicles, but what we are saying is that they should be removed from pick up points because most commuters know where they would be going and they do not need anyone to direct them or inform them.

“On this sad case, we say let the law take its course and enforcers should get rid of these touts just like what they did in 2012,” he said. Mr Katsvairo said if responsible authorities fail to address the problem, they will sit down as operators on the way forward.

“We can either do it the South African way where most of the touts would be in uniforms so that they can be easily identified and they must be someone who is accountable for these people for them to operate, but as of now they must be driven out of the ranks,” he said.

Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said they were in the process of relocating the buses. “We were in the process of relocating the buses to appropriate places before this unfortunate incident.

“We are also working with the ZRP to ensure that sanity prevails in and around the city,” he said.

Gore’s body was taken to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals for post-mortem.-Herald