Po­lice taken to High Court for de­mand­ing spot fines

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Richard Muponde Gwanda Correspondent

TRANS­PARENCY In­ter­na­tional Zim­babwe has filed a High Court ap­pli­ca­tion seek­ing an or­der stop­ping the po­lice from de­mand­ing spot fines from mo­torists.

The cor­rup­tion watch­dog also wants the High Court to de­clare the im­pound­ing of mo­tor ve­hi­cles for a traf­fic of­fence with­out a court or­der and an op­tion to pay a fine as un­law­ful.

A cham­ber ap­pli­ca­tion filed last Fri­day at the Bu­l­awayo High Court by TIZ un­der case num­ber HC 2773/16, said de­mand­ing spot fines by the po­lice vi­o­lates peo­ple’s rights as en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral of Po­lice, Au­gus­tine Chi­huri and the Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs, Cde Ig­natius Chombo were cited as the first and sec­ond re­spon­dents re­spec­tively.

“The ap­pli­ca­tion to de­clare as un­law­ful the mal­ad­mis­tra­tion of spots fines by mem­bers of the Zim­babwe Re­pub­lic Po­lice un­der the em­ploy of the first and sec­ond de­fen­dants is and hereby granted. To that end and in recog­ni­tion of the rights en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion of Zim­babwe Amend­ment (No2) Act 2013, it is hereby de­clared that: ev­ery per­son has a right to ad­min­is­tra­tive con­duct that is law­ful, prompt, ef­fi­cient, rea­son­able, pro­por­tion­ate , im­par­tial and both sub­stan­tially and pro­ce­du­rally fair,” said TIZ in the or­der that is be­ing sought.

TIZ said the court should or­der the po­lice to ticket Zim­bab­weans driv­ing lo­cally reg­is­tered ve­hi­cles and give them time to pay a fine at a po­lice sta­tion of their choice.

“A mo­torist who has al­legedly com­mit­ted a traf­fic of­fence should be is­sued with a ticket and given a rea­son­able time within which to pay the fine, un­less the mo­torist elects to pay the fine on spot. All mem­bers of the Zim­babwe Re­pub­lic Po­lice con­duct­ing road traf­fic du­ties should carry a ticket book, which is a nec­es­sary ad­min­is­tra­tive tool in the ex­e­cu­tion of their du­ties on the road,” said TIZ.

It said the prac­tice of po­lice of­fi­cers in­sist­ing on a spot fine on the ba­sis that they are not in pos­ses­sion of a ticket book must be de­clared an of­fence.

“Fail­ure by mem­bers of the of the ZRP un­der the em­ploy of first and sec­ond re­spon­dents to com­ply with the or­der must be re­ported to ei­ther or all par­ties hereto, Zim­babwe Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion and or the Zim­babwe An­tiCor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion,” it said.

TIZ de­manded that the or­der given by the court should be pub­lished within 21 days and Cde Chombo and Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral Chi­huri must pay the costs of the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The pair has 10 days to re­spond to the ap­pli­ca­tion as stip­u­lated by the High Court Rules.

TIZ is be­ing rep­re­sented by Calder­wood, Bryce Hen­drie and Part­ners Le­gal Prac­ti­tion­ers.

In Fe­bru­ary last year, High Court judge Jus­tice Fran­cis Bere said the col­lec­tion of spot fines from mo­torists by the po­lice and the im­pound­ing of their ve­hi­cles if they fail to pay up was il­le­gal and must be stopped forth­with.

Of­fi­cially open­ing the 2015 Masvingo High Court Le­gal Year, Jus­tice Bere said there was nei­ther a le­gal frame­work nor any law which ei­ther com­pelled a mo­torist to pay a spot fine or which em­pow­ered po­lice to im­pound some­one’s ve­hi­cle.

He said Sec­tion 356 of the Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure and Ev­i­dence Act (Chap­ter 9:07), which is of­ten cited on the mat­ter, did not give po­lice of­fi­cers pow­ers to force a mo­torist to pay a spot fine. Jus­tice Bere said spot fines and their re­ten­tion by the po­lice needed to be clar­i­fied as the mat­ter has caused a lot of de­bate.

How­ever, the ZRP dis­missed Jus­tice Bere’s state­ment say­ing he was merely ex­press­ing his per­sonal view.

The po­lice said the judge’s opin­ion was made out­side court and there was noth­ing brought be­fore the court re­gard­ing the mat­ter.

In a state­ment at the time, po­lice spokesman Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Paul Ny­athi said the judge’s state­ment was not bind­ing on po­lice op­er­a­tions.

He said the is­sue of de­posit fines was duly tabled be­fore Par­lia­ment and ap­proved by Cabi­net and jus­ti­fied by the Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs on sev­eral oc­ca­sions in the Au­gust House.

Chief Supt Ny­athi said as an or­gan­i­sa­tion they viewed the quoted com­ments of Jus­tice Bere as an in­ter­fer­ence on the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers. — @richardmuponde

A mo­torist drives his ve­hi­cle with an old num­ber plate along Siyepam­bili Drive in Pe­land­aba.Zi­nara has been call­ing for more than 200 000 mo­torists to reg­is­ter their ve­hi­cles to avoid de-reg­is­tra­tion. (Pic­ture: Eliah Saushoma)

MP Jus­tice Mayor Wadya­jena

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