Zimbabwe’s crime hot spots are bus stops and bus ranks where we catch our long distance buses and the biggest criminals are the touts that take advantage of innocent travellers by insulting, harassing and assaulting these innocent travellers. Over the years, the issue of touts has made headlines. On the 3rd of October 2017, Mathias Gore’s family was plunged into mourning, when their breadwinner died after being assaulted by touts while he was trying to board a bus to Mutare en-route to Mozambique near the Roadport International Terminus in Harare. On the 29th of March 2021, a video went viral in which a group of touts man handled an elderly woman which led to a public outcry and subsequent arrests of touts countrywide.
Zimbabwe has a mobile penetration rate of 102% meaning we all have access to smartphones and mobile devices that have cameras and video recording capabilities. Technology should help us as citizens and law enforcement officers to stay one step ahead of tout criminals. We should use these devices to record their harassment, abuse and assaults and report them to the relevant authorities. Using the smartphone devices that are handy we should help Zimbabwe’s prosecutors convict these touting offenders. Since emerging technology is available on all sides of justice, the cat-and-mouse game between citizens , touts and police is never-ending, requiring continual adjustments from law enforcement agencies to introduce new laws that will make touting a criminal offence.
In Zimbabwe, touts are not only illegal, but also animalistic. Someone pays them for touting. It is this system of paying touts that is very wrong. It is these public transporting companies that pay a certain percentage for every passenger that catches their bus, empowering these touts to force passengers to their buses or transporting vehicles. The good news for public safety is that crime rates have generally decreased over the past two decades, due in part to advancements in crime detection and deterrent technology, like our smartphones and mobile devices. Zimbabwe’s law enforcement should encourage citizens to have their smartphones handy and records all acts of crimes in their environment and our touts will be caught in action.Today’s effective policing leans heavily on the rapid sharing of sensitive crime-related information, the recent explosion in information technology is a positive development for law enforcement agencies. Identification technology, social media, and mobile capabilities also enhance public safety, enabling justice staff to do their business more efficiently and respond to unfolding investigations in real-time, than ever before.
While technology poses challenges for Zimbabwe’s law enforcement agencies, which continually strive to keep up with technology-based criminal enterprises. Encouraging citizens to record criminal activities enhances the fight against touting crimes.
With the advancement of technology, it is now easy for Zimbabwe’s law enforcement agencies to spread information throughout a national criminal justice system that involves the station, district, province and justice administering the policing efforts independently. Due to lack of technology, it was too often in the past, lack of access to timely information prevented various government departments from coordinating their efforts adequately. Advances in the way government agencies share information and use criminal identification systems have led to tighter connections between different government organizations and the justice departments.
Social Media, though it is a social trend as much as it is a technological breakthrough, social media furnishes Zimbabwe’s law enforcement with the use of this technology effectively. It is now easy to post and identify these touts and apprehend them through the use of whatsApp, Facebook, twitter, etc as a way of attacking touts that commit crimes on these bus stops that they operate from. Social media platforms link Zimbabwe’s law enforcement directly to the public at large, so it is a great tool for spreading descriptions, videos and other information about criminals. Communicating in real-time closes the crucial gap between the point at which crimes occur and when investigations begin, enabling citizens to respond with timely information.
In Zimbabwe, there is a constant public outcry and deafening calls for the ZRP to expeditiously bring these bus stop touts to book and there is a need for all law enforcement agencies to be visible all the time at bus ranks where touts are becoming a menace to the commuting public. The ZRP should encourage Zimbabwe’s travellers to use their mobile smartphones to record criminal activities that take place as they travel around the country.
It is time for travellers to bring sanity at all bus stops and bus ranks as we travel by reporting and recording all criminal activities by the menacing touts that now control our travelling bus stops.
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