Nearly 1 000 motorists were arrested on Saturday, the first day of an ongoing countrywide police operation targeting drivers of unregistered vehicles and those without number plates.
Police have said unregistered vehicles are being used as getaway cars in the commission of dangerous crimes including armed robberies.
In the past, the country had a number plates backlog which led motorists to drive vehicles without plates.
However, last year Treasury released US$2,1 million for the procurement of number plates after which Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona said there were enough number plates in the country.
He said it was inexcusable for motorists to drive unregistered vehicles.
In Bulawayo, the police mounted roadblocks in different areas including all routes leading to the city centre as they carried out the operation.
A number of motorists were flagged down for different violations.
Deputy national police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Blessing Chishaka said police will arrest all motorists driving vehicles without proper documentation.
“We have arrested 967 motorists who were driving unlicensed vehicles. We impounded 784 vehicles countrywide. Of those arrested with unregistered vehicles, 179 paid fines and other cases are going to be referred to the courts,” said Chief Supt Chishaka.
“Those who were driving plate-less vehicles are going to be charged. We have impounded vehicles and we are going to take matters to court. The operation is generally targeting plate-less and unregistered vehicles.”
He said police cannot account for some criminals who use unregistered vehicles to commit crimes.
“The reason why we embarked on this operation is because of late we have discovered that most of the plate-less vehicles were being used to mug people, were being used to rob people and were being used in the commission of other heinous crimes.
We are not going to relent as far as this operation is concerned and there are no sacred cows. We are going to arrest any person regardless of their status in society,” he said.
Chief Supt Chishaka said the arrest of nearly 1000 motorists on the first day of the operation is confirmation that a lot of drivers were driving unroadworthy vehicles.
He said police have also been assured that there are enough number plates in stock and there is no need for anyone to be driving a vehicle without the plates.
“We were assured by authorities that number plates are in stock as far as the police are concerned, and I’m not going to speak about those who issue number plates, we just want to make sure that the due process of the law should be followed.
The law says every vehicle that traverses our roads should be licensed and have number plates. So as police we are just following the due processes of the law,” he said.
Last month, Minister Mhona announced that Government had decentralised the issuance of number plates and they could be accessed at Zimpost offices in Chitungwiza, Causeway, Southerton and Bulawayo Main Post Office.
“We are decongesting the Central Vehicle Registry in order to clamp down on corruption. We’ve heard of corrupt tendencies where some could go on to charge US$250 when the fees stand at US$80.
“Motorists now have to go to their provinces and access number plates for their vehicles without having to go through inconveniences,” said the Minister.