The Life We Live  

Before I go any further let me just say I AM FINE (disillusioned, angry, weary, wary) but fine!

I would like to thank Steven, Lee, Warren, Terrence, Craig, Di, Sue,Mr & Mrs Forster (sorry you got woken up!) and everybody else who helped and was ready to come to my rescue.

At about 11.45 on Friday night on my way home from Flat Dogs (sober, thank goodness!) I went through 2 red robots, very slowly and carefully but as there was only one car a long way behind me I felt it was safer than stopping. That one car turned out to be an unmarked police car which started my 3 hours of hell.

Before I had even started accelerating away from the 2nd robot, the blue light was flashing and I was being pulled over. There were 3 uniformed officers and 1 plain clothed CIO officer all with rifles in that vehicle.
The shouting started the minute I stopped. I did not have my handbag on me so no form of ID (my 2nd mistake!!!). Off we went to Rhodesville Police Station where I was to be locked up until Monday. I was not allowed to use my phone to contact anyone but as I drove off with the one police officer in my car I took the risk and phoned the first person in my call list,Warren,as I knew the crowd was still at Flat Dogs and closest to the Police Station

On arrival at the station the verbal abuse and threats continued and I was made to sit next to an unconscious robber who had been shot and was bleeding all over the floor. I was informed that would have been my fate had I failed to stop. I finally, having messaged and stopped anyone coming to the Station (having angry drunk people descending on a group of aggressive police officers would have just made it worse) persuaded them to take me home to collect money and my Drivers' License. As I had fuel in my car this task was accomplished after a 2 hour drive through Harare via Central Police Station, the Fife Avenue Pubs and assisting them in stopping a truck they wanted to search along Enterprise Road.

By the time we got to the house the officer (2 uniformed and the CIO Officer) were in a better mood and a lot more friendly. I had managed to phone everyone when we stopped the truck and let them know what was happening as whilst I was driving there was no way I was taking the risk of answering my phone which was ringing constantly.

My ordeal was still not over as we now had to go back to the Police Station so I could be officially charged. I was once again a jibbering idiot. At the station initially they had informed me my fine would be at least $500 thousand dollars and I only had about $300 thousand on me so I asked if I could wake Sian and Richard up to borrow more. The Officer in Charge said not to worry we would sort it out at the station. I calmly explained there was no way I was going near the station if there was a chance I was going to be locked up for not having enough money. He then explained that the fine for going through a red robot was $25 thousand dollars!!!! I wanted to throw up - all this anguish for $25 grand!! Oh and the half tank of precious petrol I used driving them around!

The trip back to the Station went smoothly with the CIO Officer and Second Uniformed Officer not leaving my side once we got inside and the CIO Officer even trying to persuade them not to even charge me at all. I was charged the $25 thousand dollars and let go but with the advise that my ordeal was not over as the Officer in Charge had noted an 'irregularity' on my Driver's License and would be investigating further. He asked me point blank if I had 'bought' my license. I explained that it was issued over 17 years ago at the Kadoma VID and certainly was not 'bought'. I don't think that was possible then but didn't go into that with them!!!!!

I finally got home at 3am!!!!!

Having been told by people over the week-end what I 'should have' and 'could have' done.....(Guys trust me - when you are a woman alone with 4 aggressive police officers with guns breathing down your neck (not to mention the other 3 bored antagonistic ones at the cop shop!) you do as you're told and don't even think to be clever!) please can someone try to answer the

1. Is there and 'unwritten' law in Zimbabwe that says women on their own may proceed through red robots 'with caution' late at night?

2. I know it's law to carry your driver's license but is there a 24 hour period you are supposed to be given to produce it?

3. Is there anyone a woman alone can call should they find themselves in a situation like I did on Friday...... my stress was doubled as not only was I terrified of what these guys could do to me but what they could do to my friends if they came to help - I think the best thing I did was stop anyone coming to my rescue until I knew exactly what was happening!

PLEASE ladies learn from my experience - DO NOT DRIVE ALONE AFTER DARK - EVER!!!! If you have to, stop at the robots - I didn't even see these guys coming!!!! I also didn't know exactly what was happening as it was an unmarked car and I didn't know whether to stop or keep going. They say drive straight to a police station - I will NEVER go near one of those
again .. and also please believe me when I tell you that in a situation like that - as level headed as I think I normally am - everything I had learned or heard - went straight out of my head!!!! Nobody can possibly know what it's like unless they've experienced it. You live what you learn - and I've learnt two things - never drive alone after dark and never argue with someone who may have the power to hurt you - be humble, be apologetic, know your rights but trust me - I don't think knowing my rights would have really helped me - they had the power and briefly held my fate in their hands and there was NOTHING I could have done. I did learn my own strength of character on Friday night though. I pray none of you ever has the experience I did..... ever!

I WON'T BE A the 3 officers I would like to say - thank you for eventually changing your tune and having the decency to apologise for what you put me through! To my friends who want to take this further - it's not going to happen - it was a lesson and that's it - I want it over with - yes someone needs to stand up to those who think they have the power
of God - but it won't be me - they know where I live!!!!!

The Mail & Guardian's headline this week-end was - "Laws in Zimbabwe Change Daily" - aint that the truth !!!!

If anyone can advise what our rights are I would be very grateful. Take care and be safe.