Day 389 Zambia : Lusaka - Choma

Day 389 Zambia 

Trip Distance 346km (215km) Total Distance 6043km(3756m)
Road Condition 100% tar    
Time to travel 4.5hrs    
Cost of diesel ZKw6297 (£0.88)    
Stopover
Zambia
Gwembe Safari Camp S16 48.399 E26 57.095 ZKw60000 (£8.40) - Yuegh, dirty, horrible ablutions, pool looks like a swamp half-filled, inhospitable hosts - don't bother

We woke up early, excited and eager to be off on the road to our next stop, Nina's Fishing Place on the Zambezi River in Zambia to wait our time in Zambia till our new carnet kicked in on 20 May 2010.  We had met Graham & Sue in Liwonde National Park in Malawi in November 2009 on our way down to SA from UK and had promised to pop in whilst we were in Zambia.  But things changed, as they do!

We spent a few hours sorting out the medical supplies and logging them ready to hand over to Dr Mupulanga at the Village with all the stationery and gifts bagged and ready for hand over as well.

We said our last goodbyes to Paul and the staff at Pioneer Camp, had one last great shower and eventually got on the road towards the Lusaka SOS Childrens Village. 

An hour later through Friday lunchtime Lusaka traffic (bloody awful!) we finally arrived a_P1000640 a_P1000641and met with the Village director Mr Mutare and Dr Mupulanga and presented them with all the goodiesa_P1000639 (Dr Mupulanga, Jan, Mr Mutare).  We had a quick look around the facilities a_P1000635 , which are really well-laid out and looked after, and hit the road again.

Our troubles started just outside Lusaka.

Eager to leave the city behind (after all it was our fourth visit and cities are NOT our thing!), Trevor was going a little faster than planned!  We went through a speed trap with the female cop laughing and wagging her finger at us.  Well, to us she didn't step out and wave us down so we thought we had been warned, so slowed down but carried on our way.

30kms further down the road, Trevor noticed a black car 1 car behind us, flashing his lights.  He thought nothing of it only that he was a stupid driver trying to bully his way through the traffic.  Well, he was..... trying to make his way through the traffic and he turned out to be flashing us.  But when an unmarked car with 2 occupants flashes you in Africa, would you stop?  We didn't, and carried on.  Another 10kms later and finally the black unmarked car overtook us and flagged us down.  it was then we saw the passenger was a policeman.  With a sinking sensation, we stopped. 

The cop was furious and the setup began.  Did we know that we had gone through a 80km speed trap at 93kms?  We suspected but weren't flagged down.  Did we know that we had failed to stop?  Not a chance, if we were flagged down we would have stopped.  Did we know that we had been evading arrest?  No, we had an unmarked car with 1 car between us, flashing his lights.  Waving a warrant of arrest for Trevor in my face and spit flying from his mouth as he built up to a furious pitch, he shouted that Trevor was going to jail for the weekend.  As it was now 4:30pm Friday afternoon, he would remain there till Monday morning before he could appear in front of a judge.

Now, my mind was racing, as we were protesting that we were visitors, that if we had indeed been speeding, we would've stopped had we been waved down and all I could think about was Trevor in a Lusaka jail till Monday and that was NOT an option.  But he continued to shout at us, wave the warrant at me and threaten jail for Trevor.  So whilst we were still protesting, saying that we wanted to call our Embassy, I was adding up the number of people involved, working out how much this bribe was going to cost us and also trying to assess the chances that we would have to pay a huge fine in Lusaka for all the charges on the off-chance that we could persuade the cops in Lusaka that we hadn't done anything bad.  The scales dropped for me in favour of a bribe.  So taking out our spare wallet for just such an emergency we counted out our "last" money and handed it over to the cop.  US$60 and ZKw260 000 (approx another US$60).  He continued to wave the warrant but his anger cooled as he looked at what to him was a HUGE amount of money. 

A few minutes later, with him still insisting that we turn around and follow him and with him still clutching the money and Trevor's license, I said to him that I either wanted the money or the license back before we followed him back to Lusaka.  He looked at the money, then at the license and said that if he gave us the license back, as this was a "sufficient amount" to cover the fines for all the charges, he would let us go.  I was in a quandary.  If he'd been radioed by the woman cop then the cops ahead of us at the road blocks would have heard the call as well.  So we insisted that we give us his mobile number (which we checked and it rang).  He wrote this down on the warrant.  As a further bit of "insurance" for us, I asked him to write on the warrant, a receipt for the money he had in his hand.  And this was the strangest thing of all.  He did.  Handing back Trevor's license we said our goodbyes and set off on the road again.

In summary, we're sure that we were fleeced.....but we're still not 100% sure because of the real mobile number, the officer's name and the PAID money written on the warrant.  We weren't stopped at any further road blocks although we went through another 4 or 5 (our stomachs cramped every time one appeared on the horizon) and we continued on our way without any further issues with the law.  Even though the money we handed over was equivalent to U$120, the crooked cop should have pushed harder - I would have paid more.  He just didn't realise JUST how scared I was.

As the sun was dipping lower and lower into the sky we approached Choma and found a campsite on T4A registered just on the outskirts.  With a bit of a traumatic day behind us, we decided to stop and camp and it was well dark by the time we approached the campsite.  We were directed to the grassy camping spot, got ourselves level, set up camp and decided, that as it was talked about in the Lonely (Lying) Planet as a birders paradise, we might stay another day if it was nice.  We had, after all, 14 days left in Zambia.  Well, that's what we thought anyway.