E-polic­ing in Zim to foil bo­gus cops

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - PETA THORNY­CROFT

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

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