Chinese get raw deal from traffic cops

MASERU — Chinese nationals running businesses in Lesotho say they are being targeted by corrupt police officers who are demanding hefty bribes for fake traffic offences.

Sources who spoke to the Lesotho Times said it had become common practice for corrupt traffic police officer to demand bribes of between M20 and M30 from motorists who break traffic laws.

But if a traffic offender is of Chinese nationality the bribe is suddenly hiked to between M200 and M500.

If they refuse, they said, they are being arrested and detained in police cells for a day only to be released at night or the following day without any charges being laid against them.

Spending hours at a police station would be the last thing that these Chinese businessmen who mostly run shops would want.

A Chinese national who is running the revived Lesotho Pharmaceutical Corporation (LPC) in Mafeteng, Pakker Jia, told the Lesotho Times last week that he was recently arrested at about 10.30am only to be released at 7pm for a fake traffic offence.

Jia says he was driving from the Maseru Bridge border post and when he reached the Y junction where Mpilo Boulevard joins Kingsway Road he decided to take the Mpilo Boulevard.

“The police stopped me and told me that I should have taken Kingsway Road,” Jia said.

“They said cars from the border gate should take Kingsway Road,” he said.

“The police said I should pay them M200 or they would arrest me.”

Jia said he refused to pay and was arrested.

Having spent hours at the police station he was released at night only after the intervention of local Chinese businessmen and the principal secretary for trade, Teleko Ramots’oari.

Jia, who recently arrived in Lesotho from China to manage the LPC, said he was embarrassed when the police arrested him.

“I do not know Maseru much but I knew that I had not broken any traffic law,” Jia said.

“There was no road sign showing that from the Maseru border gate I should not drive into Mpilo but should proceed along Kingsway,” he said.

“The police just wanted me to give them money and nothing else.”

He was eventually released but was told to return to the police station the following Monday.

When he reported back at the police station he was told there was no case against him.

A Chinese woman, Li Huang, who works for a factory in the Maseru West Industrial Area, said on Monday she was travelling in a van that did not have a licence to carry goods when the police pulled them over along Main South 1 Road. Huang said the van did not have the D-Permit, which allows vehicles to load things.

She said the police demanded M500 from the driver or else they were going to arrest him.

“They (police officers) think all the Chinese have money,” Huang said.

She said since she was in a hurry to deliver the goods to be prepared for export any delay would have meant a huge loss to her business.

“I paid,” she said.

Contacted for comment, police spokesman Masupha Masupha said he was not aware of the Jia incident.

He however said the police had since launched a campaign to weed out corrupt officers who demand bribes.

“I call on all those from whom the police have demanded bribes to come to my office and report,” Masupha said.

Comments are closed.