Traffic police stop using metal spikes
POLICE have been stopped from indiscriminate use of metal spikes on vehicles as new measures are being introduced to deal with errant drivers on the country’s roads.
The use of spikes had attracted immense criticism from motorists who felt there were better avenues for modern policing systems on the country’s roads. Our Harare Bureau has established that over the last few weeks, police have gradually phased out the use of spikes after being stopped by Government. Municipal police have also discarded the instruments with Harare City Council now turning to electronic technology to deal with road menace.
Deploying road spikes on a mobile vehicle without lawful excuse already carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and or a fine of up to US$3 000 in terms of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter IV.
The decision comes a few weeks after President Mugabe criticised traffic police officers who use spikes.
In comments that attracted huge cheers from thousands of people at the burial of national heroes Cdes Maud Muzenda and George Rutanhire at the National Heroes Acre, President Mugabe said spikes pose a danger to the public.
Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo last week said police would only use spikes in exceptional situations.
He said: “Police no longer use spikes to stop vehicles. Spikes are only used when there are reasonable grounds to stop a suspect who would have evaded a police roadblock or an order by a law officer to stop. This means that not every officer you come across on the roads will have spikes.
“What police are doing now is that when a motorist refuses to stop when ordered to do so, the officers will alert the next road block and this is where spikes can be used because the driver would have refused to stop and there is reasonable grounds to believe that they may have committed a crime. When a driver complies with an order to stop then there is no need to use spikes. Spikes will only be used to deal with trouble makers who refuse to comply with orders to stop. This is the standard procedure worldwide.
“In the past we used to have our police armed with guns during patrols but now things have changed. Guns are only used when there is reasonable grounds that the suspect could be a dangerous criminal. We urge motorists to stop when they are ordered to do so by law officers and this should be within reasonable distance.”
Harare City Council traffic officers who had also become notorious for their indiscriminate use of the spikes have also stopped using the instruments. Council spokesperson Mr Micheal Chideme said the city had turned to technology.
He said: “We have evolved, we are now using technology whereby we capture the offenders’ details such as the vehicle’s registration plate and send them tickets to their registered addresses. If they fail to pay in time, legal proceedings will be instituted. We send their details to our partners — Zinara and CVR — so that whenever they want to renew their licenses they will have to pay first.”
Section 38 Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter IV criminalises throwing instruments such as spikes on moving vehicles.
Police are introducing new innovations to better manage traffic policing with roadblocks soon to be under 24-hour satellite surveillance, with realtime images beamed to a central server to help curb corruption and harassment of motorists. The Electronic Traffic Management System which is being gradually introduced will see road traffic offenders pay most fines electronically.
It is being implemented via a partnership between Government and Univern Enterprises Limited, and also targets road traffic violations and vehicle theft. The innovation is similar to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority’s Electronic Transit Cargo Tracking System aimed at curtailing transit fraud and illegal dumping of goods on the domestic market. Police officers at roadblocks or on highway patrol will be equipped with electronic tablets to scan vehicle licence discs. The vehicle owner’s name, driver’s licence number, vehicle purchase information and other details will be retrieved immediately.