Bulawayo - A video has emerged of one of Zimbabwe’s despised traffic cops being pummelled by angry residents.
Local reports say he caused a minibus carrying passengers to veer off the road and crash into a hardware store in Bulawayo.
In the YouTube video taken moments after the accident, the cop tries to hurry away but is waylaid by angry pedestrians. Some of them punch his head and back.
Watch the video below
The policeman, who appears to have lost his cap but is still wearing his fluorescent green armbands, grey shirt and navy blue trousers, tries to deflect the blows. For a few moments it looks like the violence will escalate when, just in the nick of time, a blue SUV pulls up alongside them, a door is flung open and the hounded cop makes a narrow escape.
The state-run Chronicle newspaper said the cop tried to demand a bribe from the minibus driver. When he refused the policeman allegedly grabbed the steering wheel to stop him from getting away.
Hit a pillar
The kombi is reported to have swerved off the road and ploughed into a street pillar and then into a hardware store.
The driver sustained minor injuries.
Traffic cops here have been criticised for their aggressive style of policing, especially their use of metal spikes to stop drivers who try to evade them, and for the massive proliferation of roadblocks and checkpoints countrywide.
Spike in fatal accidents
Police say the checkpoints are necessary to make sure cars are roadworthy to help reduce accidents. But that argument suffered a serious blow this week.
According to its latest report, Zimbabwe's national statistics agency (Zimstat) said road accidents increased from around 42 000 in 2014 to nearly 160 000 in 2016. Fatalities increased from around 2 000 to more than 9 000 over the same period.