Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Police, Photocopying and No Transport

Last week I was a victim of a theft. The bloody burger got away with my car battery, while I was asleep. I don’t know whether I should say thankfully the battery was all he got away with because he could have gotten away with much more. Thieves can be such an unnecessary inconvenience and for a moment I could empathise with all those individuals who perform mob justice and want burn them alive. I mean here is a fellow who is able bodied to be capable to climb a wall fence, remove and carry a car battery and have the audacity to return for the car radio can find something to do. Then what added further to my frustration was the service I received from the police, I even wondered why I bothered going there.

I must be brainwashed by watching all these CSI series where I think that the police will come dust the car for finger prints, check the scene for any eye lashes, or footmarks, interrogate the neighbours and then voila catch the thief. Snap out of it frustrated brotha.  When I went to report the matter at the Manda Hill police post, I knew I was far away from any CSI scenario when the police officer began to write my statement in a big record book. In the age of computers, our police posts are still writing details in a record book. So if the book gets stolen or it rains, then all the records are gone for good. I was then asked to return later if I wanted to open a docket because there was no stationery. For one reason or another our police posts seem to be in the habit of running out of stationery and often we are asked to go photocopy police report sheets. I mean seriously, someone just stole my car battery and the last thing I need to hear is that a docket cannot be opened because of lack of paper. Cry my beloved Zambia. I was then told that when I return then if I am lucky they may visit the scene if it is not disturbed. Slowly I realised that my CSI wish would not be coming true. I returned home with no police officer coming to check the crime scene and without a docket in hand.

I returned later for my docket, but while I waited for it a gentleman came into the station claiming that his phones had been stolen. He narrated his story and the officer got down his statement once again in the big black book. Then the officer mentioned that once the formalities had been done that she need to take the form to Northmead but there was no transport. So here was a police post that had no stationery and had no transport, just my luck. The gentleman quickly offered to provide transport as long as he could get his phones traced and handed back to him. I too was capable to provide transport, so what would the poor person do in such a situation.

The police service is supposed to serve every Zambian citizen regardless of race, tribe, or economic status. However, in this nation we have various people at various economic levels. Where is a poor person who is barely making ends meet supposed to find the money to start photocopying a police report sheet when that money could be used to buy bread. Or where is he supposed to find transport to ferry the police officers to the scene of the theft, by the way our officers do not use buses they need a taxi. The officers use the taxi to take them to the scene and back to the police post. Taxis are not cheap and depending on the distance can be quite expensive. The taxi fare alone could be the cost of a bag of mealie meal. This simply means that if you are poor you might not be able to report the matter to the police for it to be adequately handled.

There are certain aspects of police investigation that I can accept that we do not have the resources for things such as forensic labs but lack of no stationery and transport is not one that I can accept. The police need to have the basic minimum to handle the cases that are presented to them. It should not be dependent whether someone can provide transport or not. It is important for the relevant authorities to ensure that the police posts have relevant resources to carry out their duties otherwise police posts might as well put a poster that we will only attend to you if you come with your own stationery and transport. In the meantime, I need to watch more of Muvi TVs The Constables rather CSI to get more proper representation of my reality.