One lunchhour three weeks ago, I escorted a friend to Lingadzi (Area 18) Police Station where, a day earlier, he had reported a house tenancy gone bad.
My friend was dead sceptical about how fair the proceedings would go because the landlord we were to meet had bragged about having ‘close acquaintances’ at the police station.
My friend had also heard of instances where police officers ‘partake’ in portions of such settlements.
We branched off to a filling station directly opposite the police station across the road. My friend and I resolved to first top up on petrol before proceeding to the police station.
As I neared the petrol pump, here comes a vendor with a basin of tangerines on his shoulder, taking no caution of vehicles arriving or leaving the service station.
As he approached us with his careless abandon, apparently absent-minded, I decided the best was to halt, not hoot; the latter would have catapulted him on to an oncoming vehicle fast moving away from the fuel pump.
Seconds later, I had come to a complete stop when the boy bumped into the vehicle, his metal basin landing on the bonnet with a clink so loud it could have woken up the dead.
Tangerines raced in all directions. The boy raged like a possessed circus bull and called me names. I locked my temper in and watched him rant.
It was the guard at the service station who reasoned with the boy. I was nowhere near being in the wrong.
The guard was about to lay his baton on the boy when I darted out to rescue the situation. The boy collected the scattered tangerines and I found out from him if he was ok. He answered in the affirmative. More good news was all the tangerines were still good for sale.
As the boy proceeded with his errand, I got done with the petrol attendant, then off to the police station,
In a few minutes, an officer firmly resolved our matter and my friend got all his money back in cash from the landlord, without any incident of the police directly or indirectlyasking for a coin.
We were about to leave the police premises when a group of four traffic police officers called me and my friend to their circle.
In the middle was the boy with tangerines. I gathered the boy had told the traffic officers of how I had ‘mercilessly’ rammed into him at the filling station and disappeared.
The boy had all the right to be heard and the traffic officer that the others left to hear the boy’s case was so good at having the boy present his case in the most civil and fair of environments.
The boy was asking the officer to hold me liable for his now ‘seriously painful back’ and have me pay for his‘wasted tangerines.’
But the officer was not one to be easily wrapped blind by the ‘sombre’ narrative of the boy. The officer picked some loose statements and a follow up to them led into the boy slipping in his shoes.
The boy finally opened up and told of how he had been misled by tyre fitters nearby and fellow vendors into trying his luck at getting something out of the incident.
The policeman devotedly took the boy aside and gave him a lecture on how presenting false information can land one in the cooler.
The conduct of the two officers we had met in the two consecutive days left my friend and I wondering how on earth there still could be some good cops left around in a country so bent to believe good cops are history and that everything around police service is about corruption and underhand dealings.
We drove back to the office happy knowing that good cops still exist! n