Police swoop in on ‘unregistered businesses’, confiscate machinery

A small business owner operating in Bulawayo was left fuming Monday after police officers allegedly seized his machinery leaving him out of work following a blitz on unregistered businesses and errant operators.

The police reportedly started their blitz on unregistered companies operating from the Kelvin and Thorngrove industrial sites as well as the city centre.

Companies found without proper documentation were made to pay fines while some had their machinery seized.

An entrepreneur, Luponiso Sisipenzi, who operates Lupss Steel Works Pvt Ltd, said police seized his equipment.

“Yesterday when I arrived at the workshop in Thorngrove, I was informed the police had taken most of our equipment citing that we don’t have registration. I went to the police station, and told them I do have company registration papers but I don’t have the certificate from Bulawayo City Council. I was given two tickets and paid ZWL$4 000 fine,” he said in an interview with CITE.

Sisipenzi said after paying the fine, he asked police to release his machinery to resume business but the officers allegedly refused.

“The machinery that police seized included a welding machine, two grinders, a drilling machine and extension cables for the grinders since we do welding, metal fabrication, produce gates, window frames and other related products. Now without this equipment, we can’t do our work,” he said.

“I have six workers and every minute we are not working; we are destroying the livelihoods of my workers and their families.”

Sisipenzi added he and other entrepreneurs share a workspace but luckily their equipment was not taken due to its ‘big’ size.

“The others use big machines but police did not seize that because a crane would be needed to lift those heavy machines,” claimed the entrepreneur.

What is worrying Sisipenzi is that police informed him his equipment would be auctioned.

“I went to the CPO at Ross Camp Police Camp and then engaged with the Officer in Charge, who said since we had gone straight to his superior, there was no help he could give us. The Officer in Charge told me our equipment is going to be auctioned,” he alleged.

“I asked how they could auction our equipment because it’s not as if we were using stolen equipment. Besides, I had already paid a fine yet the police still took my equipment.  I don’t understand this, that’s why I am making noise.”

Sisipenzi said he understands that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is the one mandated to seize assets and auction them, especially when it comes to tax compliance.

The entrepreneur claimed as a way forward, he was in the process of acquiring the shop licence certificate from the local authority.

“We are a young company and we are still growing. Although this is our seventh year in business, we are still learning the ropes. We continue learning what the business demands on a daily basis,” Sisipenzi said.

Reached for comment, Bulawayo Provincial Police spokesperson, Inspector Abednico Ncube, warned all companies to formalise their operations.

“People should know that whatever business they are doing, it should be legal. As police, we are enforcing all laws that come to us for enforcement. We enforce the law of parliament and government of the land,” he said, clarifying that this blitz was not an operation but their usual job.

“Once people see police officers enforcing the law, they then attach the word ‘operation,’ which is wrong. As I speak now, we have a campaign against stock theft and buying meat from unlicensed premises or from the streets but tomorrow people will say ‘we have an operation.’ This is not an operation but we are just enforcing the law as mandated to the police by the constitution of Zimbabwe.”

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