Traf­fic po­lice stop us­ing metal spikes

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Harare Bu­reau

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.

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