A female cop who was part of a crack team that busted a fellow police officer who swallowed $10 bribe money yesterday left the court in stitches after giving a dramatic explanation of what transpired.
The trial of Grace Tsingano, 35, who is being charged with criminal abuse of office, was held before Harare magistrate Josephine Sande.
Talkmore Matimbe, an inspector at Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) Internal Investigations department, told the court that she was alerted by the complainant Charles Matama that Tsingano was demanding money to facilitate change of ownership for his car.
Tsingano was responsible for booking exhibits and undertaking restoration — a process of regularising car engine or chassis number with the one that appears on the registration book.
On March 7, Tsingano was at work when Mutama brought his Mazda 626 for change of ownership. It was discovered that the car’s chassis number was not legible.
The court heard that Mutama was ordered to fill a restoration form before being referred to Tsingano’s office and submitted the papers.
It was alleged that Tsingano went through Mutama’s forms and advised him that she would impound his car and forfeit it to the State.
She reportedly demanded $20 from Mutama for his car not to be impounded and he asked for her phone number to transfer the money via EcoCash.
That same day Mutama advised PGHQ Internal Investigations department about the issue and a trap was set up on March 8.
Mutama then contacted Tsingano who agreed to receive $11 through EcoCash and agreed that the balance of $10 would be settled after successfully changing ownership of the car.
On March 8, Mutama returned to Tsingano in the company of “trap details” and handed over the $10 in two $5 denominations to the cop.
After receiving the trap money, the detectives followed Tsingano to her office and a scuffle ensued as she resisted arrest.
The court heard that Tsingano chewed the money and bolted out of the office. The trap money was never recovered but Tsingano was eventually arrested.
Narrating what transpired, Matimbe said: “We teamed up with other police officers, set up a trap before accompanying Matama to meet Tsingano. When we arrived at CID Vehicle Theft Squad, we disembarked from Matama’s vehicle and watched from a distance as Tsingano arrived and received the bribe.
“She was given the $10 and Matama waved in signal before we followed Tsingano to her office. When I introduced myself, she became violent and started running around her office saying she did not want to be searched.
“I wrestled with her and we fell to the ground together but she immediately got up and took the money from her bra and put it in her mouth. Sergeant Katsande ran after her and dragged her back to the officer-in-charge’s office.”
Matimbe added that while in the boss’ office, Tsingano was asked to surrender her phone since there were allegations that she had received the bribe via EcoCash. “She stood up and bolted out of the office while other detectives pursued her.
“When she was caught, Tsingano squeezed the phone tightly, shattering the screen and nothing could be extracted from it,” Matimbe added.
The court heard that Tsingano had to be dragged back to her office before being formally advised about her arrest.