E-policing in Zim to foil bogus cops
ZIMBABWE police, who regularly make more than R750 million out of fines every month, will soon introduce “real time images” to try to control “corruption and harassment”.
Police daily issue admissions of guilt to many drivers in every town and city, and along all main roads in the cities and across the country.
Those accused of breaking the law usually have to sign admission of guilt and pay their fines on the spot. And as many motorists drive alone, when they are stopped at a roadblock and accused of a misdemeanour they have no witness against usually three police officers.
The government apparently has no control over the number of roadblocks set up each day.
And there are increasing reports that people are being stopped by tricksters dressed up as police.
The money from the fines is also apparently shared among senior police staff.
But in some ways, relief is on the way via a new electronic system.
More than 500 gadgets have been imported and will be used as part of the electronic traffic management system managed from a distance.
Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo said: “The electronic traffic management system is basically the best thing that has ever happened to this country. It’s simply e-policing, which ensures that when one is stopped at a roadblock, police will have with them an electronic device to scan one’s licence disc.
“There is no need for the motorist to exit his/her vehicle. The device then uploads all the information the officer may require, including the car owner’s name, national identification card number and the vehicle’s history.
“You don’t necessarily have to open your window. If the device does not detect any offence, then you will be told to proceed. However, if you haven’t paid your vehicle licence levies, for instance, the system will detect that and the officer will ask you to pay.”
Apparently the device will be able to identify the police as bona fide.
There is almost no cash in Zimbabwe, but that won’t matter as Chombo said the system would be able to take the fine on the spot electronically.
He didn’t explain what might be the consequences for those driving borrowed cars or tourists who can’t use their credit cards in Zimbabwe or those who don’t have plastic money.
Walter Mzembi, the tourism minister, recently complained about the number of “war blocks”. “The concern is about excessive presence of police,” he said. But his concern was ignored.
Foreigners who can prove they are visitors say one of the only protections they have while driving is to have no cash on them, although some police will then confiscate the driver’s vehicle.
Within Harare it is hard to travel more then a few kilometres before coming across a roadblock. Residents warn one another or navigate complicated alternative routes to avoid roadblocks. The Zimbabwe Republic Police try to force motorists to pay fines on the spot.
The lowest fine, according to statistics is about R260. Police issue an admission of guilt fine and expect to be paid immediately.
Motorists travelling alone can usually not persuade police of their innocence, for example, if they are accused of not stopping at a stop street. Any broken light or faulty indicator, fire extinguisher of a particular type, or missing small strips of red or white reflector tape, even inside passenger doors, leads to a fine. – Foreign Service