As I'm certain the world will come to end on Jan 1, I must make a confession to you, my readers: From the very first day I started writing this column (over a year ago), I have always wanted to write a Police Beat based on Zimbabwean crime. But because I'm a coward, I've never had the guts to tell my editor of this secret passion. But now that the end is near, what can she say? Who can stop me now? So here it is: Seattle's first and very last Zimbabwean Police Beat.

Breast-feeding Frogs/Bulawayo/April 10/noon: Today, police dismissed allegations that a number of women have died after being forced by "unscrupulous businessmen" to breast-feed frogs. Senior Assistant Commander Mpofu said, "We have investigated the case and found it to be totally false. There is no such case, and the nation should not panic. Anyone spreading such rumors is causing undue alarm." Apparently, the story of a girl who was forced to breast-feed a large frog -- after being offered a lift by a businessman driving a posh Mercedes-Benz -- has spread far and wide, and now scared women bolt whenever they see a posh car moving toward them. One Bulawayo woman alleges that she was the survivor of an attempt; though she had not seen the frog, she suspected the driver was carrying one in his car.

Gun-toting American Missionaries Have Low Opinion of African Airports/Harare International Airport/May 7/5:00 pm: Three Americans -- Blanchard (36), Pettijohn (34), and Dixon (35) -- were arrested today for attempting to board a Swiss Air plane with guns in their luggage. When asked by authorities why they thought they could get away with carrying so many guns onto a plane at an international airport, they answered that their perception of Africa was so low, they were shocked that Zimbabwe had an X-ray machine to detect weapons. (None of the cops were amused by this admission.) When asked why they were carrying guns to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first place, they maintained that they were Christian missionaries for Harvestfield Ministries, which is based in Colorado, and that they were forced to take the arms to the DRC for self-defense. One claimed that formal law enforcement had broken down in the DRC to the extent that gun law was the order of the day. "The only law there is a soldier with an AK-47, and we had to arm ourselves in the manner we did due to the constant threat on our families," one of them said. "We were preparing for an eventuality where we could shoot our way out of the DRC if the situation demanded," another explained. All three are being charged for violating the Aircraft Act.

A Crime Letter/Old Windsor Park/December 5/10:00 am: Today, an honest Harare citizen, Francis Maravanyika, sent this important letter to all law-abiding Zimbabweans: "I am writing this letter in the hope that it might be helpful to whoever recently lost a Philips 21-inch colour television set with this serial number: SV009836215013. On Wednesday morning, at around 10 am, on my way to a tuck-shop, I discovered this TV in the Old Windsor Park area, in a small area of bush along Nxele Drive. The TV was covered with grass and, on this discovery, I asked my workmate to guard the TV while I went to report the matter to the police. When I got to the police, they seemed a bit hesitant to act on the tip-off, but I was finally provided with two officers to accompany me to the scene. We arrived at the scene at about 12:45 pm, because the policemen did not have any transport. They then asked me for my identity particulars before taking the TV to the roadside, where they sought transport back to the station. What surprised me was that no statement was taken, save for my ID particulars, and that the two officers handled the TV without wearing any gloves. They also did not make an inspection of the area, which clearly showed that somebody had deliberately tried to conceal the TV. I advise the owner of the TV to visit Ruwa Police Station as soon as possible, lest it be consigned to the 'unclaimed goods' section."

By Charles Mudede

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