How police, wildlife officers terrorise villagers with bogus charges-II

24Jan 2016
Gerald Kitabu
Guardian On Sunday
How police, wildlife officers terrorise villagers with bogus charges-II

A pastoralist, Serigeti Gidahuhu (60), a resident of Ndoroboni village, Chemba district in Dodoma region, has accused policemen and game wardens in Swagaswaga game reserve in the district, of conducting illegal deals aimed at soliciting bribes from pastoralists. This is the second part of the story……...

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Since the Guardian on Sunday reported the scandal last week, more evidence and truth about the matter has surfaced.
The victim, Serigeti Gidahuhu told this paper that last week a team of police officers from Dodoma visited him. He said they interrogated him and some few members of his family before taking photos of his compound.
Then a few days later he received a call mid this week from Kwamtoro police station requesting him to go and collect his money. Gidahuhu says that he received a call from the head of Kwamtoro police station telling him that his money amounting to 800,000/- police and wildlife officers had taken from him was at the station and that he should go and collect it.
But Gidahuhu reportedly told the caller that he would only take back the money if the handover was done in writing and signed by both sides. He says that negotiations were going on and the Kwamtoro ward councilor, John Konkoli, was aware of the negotiations to have the money back.
When reached for comment, Konkoli confirmed that the suspects were ready to pay back Gidahuhu’s money. He said that the head of Kwamtoro police station, Yuda Mwakapimba, told him that the suspects had brought back the money and were ready to pay it back.
“I have advised this Barbaig pastoralist (Gidahuhu) that the handover of the money should be in writing and signatures should appear on both the two sides so that he can keep record and evidence,” he said.
Councillor vows to fire Ndoroboni acting village executive officer
In another development, Kwamtoro Ward councillor, John Nkonkoli, who is currently in Kondoa district on a working visit, told this paper that he was going to suspend the acting village executive officer of Ndoroboni village, Seleman Paul, for violating his work ethics.
Selema Paul is one of the suspects in the team of three people who went to solicit bribes from the pastoralist. He said Seleman was no longer faithful and could not be trusted anymore to continue holding public office.
“In fact, the acting village executive officer for Ndoroboni village, Seleman Paul, has gone against his work ethics. Therefore, he has disqualified himself. I am now in Kondoa town for a couple of days on a working visit, but when I go back to my ward I will suspend him,” he said.
Nkonkoli urged the police force and Swagaswaga game reserve management to see to it that the suspected police and wildlife officers were also taken to task in order to restore people’s confidence and trust in the police force.
“These officers are unfit to lead people and take care of their property because their illegal activities make them dirty,” he said.
“In this period of the hapa kazi tu slogan, these people are a burden. They should be suspended and stern disciplinary and legal measures taken against them,” he added.
For his part, Land rights monitor for Kwamtoro village, Boniface Bwanamganga, told the Guardian that the police were ready to pay back the money at anytime negotiations between the two sides were concluded.
“This week, an inquiry team of police officers from Dodoma came here and visited Serigeti’s home. I think they were following up on the matter.”
Other related incidents
According to John Nkonkoli, at one point in time, a gang of criminals invaded, robbed and made away with a number of cattle belonging to one of the pastoralists (name withheld) in Chemba district.
But when the pastoralist reported the matter to the police station, in a very turn of events, the police ended up slapping him and he could not make any follow-up to help him recover his cattle.
He said there was urgent need for the government to look into the conduct of its officers working in various departments and fire those civil servants working for personal gain.
Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDs)
Commenting on the matter, the National coordinator for Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDs) Onesmo Olengurumwa, said that the problem of the police to terrorize the villagers especially the pastoralists with bogus charges has become very common in many parts of Tanzania.
He said such illegal actions are carefully planned and deliberately directed to the pastoralists because they know that the pastoralists cannot confront the government.
“For the police force to conduct such illegal deals is against their ethics and I would like to call on the Police force to arrest the perpetrators to deter others from doing the same” he said.
He said that for a long time, the pastoralists have lived with animals without killing them, so implicating them and conning them is not right.
“In many game reserves where the pastoralists live, animals are not disturbed but the areas where they have left are the ones suffering from poachers” he said.
Dodoma regional commissioner
Dodoma regional commissioner Chiku Galawa, who was not aware of the scandal, received the news with shock.
“Did you talk to RPC? What did he say? Ok, I will communicate with him on this matter.
“Police and wildlife officers engaging in such immoral acts and someone says they should be pardoned? Let me try to make a follow-up on the matter,” she said.
Home Affairs minister
Contacted for comment, Home Affairs Charles Kitwanga could not receive the call but when this reporter sent him a text message requesting clarification on the matter, he immediately replied, asking the reporter to give him the names of the suspected police and wildlife officers and the village executive officer.
“Do you have their names?” the sms read.

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