MPs rail against rowdy touts

LEGISLATORS have expressed dismay over the manner in which touts are causing havoc at transport pick up points, perpetrating serious cases of gender-based violence (GBV) and verbally abusing women.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Parliamentary Women’s Caucus deputy chairperson Sibusisiwe Bhuda-Masara yesterday told a breakfast meeting organised by Plan International and the Zimbabwe National Council for Welfare of the Children (ZNCWC) on the 16 days of activism against GBV that police must deal with the touts.

“We are now scared that our girls can be raped while looking for public transport, because these touts shout very filthy remarks about their dressing. Women are abused and some have even died after being harassed. And what is worrying is that at times it happens in the presence of police officers,” Bhuda-Masara said.

Parliamentary Women’s caucus secretary Consilia Chinanzvavana said women were the biggest victims of GBV. She urged men to protect women in the streets as the harassment could also be meted out on their mothers, wives or sisters.

MDC Alliance legislator Dorcas Sibanda said there was need for a round table discussion with the touts, transport owners and the police to end GBV on women in public spaces.

Kumbirai Kahiya, the director of Girls and Women Empowerment Network Trust, said the violence perpetrated by touts on women happened mostly while police officers looked on.

“A majority of these commuter omnibuses are owned by the police, and that is why they do not care if any of us dies at the hands of touts. We cannot continue to regulate what is illegal, like touting — we need to remove it completely. MPs need to look at who owns these kombis,” Kahiya said.

Tafadzwa Goliati, the president of the Passengers Association of Zimbabwe, said the problem was that civil servants that are supposed to administer laws to protect passengers were the owners of most public service vehicles.

“It is now difficult for them to administer the law, because they are interested parties and businesspersons,” Goliati said.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Levi Mayihlome said there was need to provide police with adequate budgetary support to get CCTVs and monitor the streets to deal with rowdy touts.