Police spot fines illegal — Judge

MASVINGO - In a landmark legal statement that should bring welcome relief to long-abused motorists, a High Court judge has said that it is unconstitutional for police to force drivers to pay spot fines at roadblocks.

Officially opening the 2015 legal year in Masvingo yesterday, High Court judge Francis Bere said it was patently illegal for the police to collect spot fines.

“For quite some time, there had been raging debate concerning the collection and retention of spot fines by the police.

“There is no law that compels motorists to deposit a fine to the police,” Justice Bere said.

The judge expressed concern over the way motorists were being treated and threatened by police officers manning the country’s ubiquitous roadblocks on major highways and other roads.

He also said it was illegal for police to impound the vehicles of those who fail to pay spot fines, adding that there was no law that supported such action.

Justice Bere said any fine and monetary collections made by police should be done in accordance with Section 356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07).

“That piece of legislation does not support the manner in which the spot fines are being collected and handled by the police.

“The section does not give the police the power to force a motorist to pay a fine if the motorist does not wish to do so or if he does not have the money on his person,” he said.

Bere said the police were also flouting the law by refusing to transmit all the documentation with fines to the magistrates courts.

He further accused police of breeding corruption because of the way they were issuing the illegal spot fines — and blasted “illicit deals” between police officers and minibus taxi drivers where the latter often sought to bribe the police in order to get permission to operate freely on the roads.

“There is talk of coordinated collections of security fees on our public roads particularly from commuter omnibus drivers to give them unhindered passage at police roadblocks.

“If this is true, then the department is cursed. How can we condone such malpractices which are breeding ground for corrupt tendencies?” Bere said.

Police have in the past attempted to justify their collection of spot fines by saying that the money helps the force to fund its operational costs.

Justice Bere said the police should not operate as an extension of Treasury unless and until a legal framework is put in place to support such action.

 

Comments (22)

Unfortunately the statement does not carry the force of law but an opinion. There is need for someone to challenge the practice in the court of law so that a precedent can be set.

makwinja - 10 February 2015

Thank you Justice Bere for bringing to light this abnormality.The practice is undertaken to promote corruption.What the police receipt as spot fine is a fraction of the money they collect at road blocks. Now we need someone to challenge the prctice in court as br makwinja has suggested.

Mwana Wevhu - 10 February 2015

How many times have we been told about by those in authority? The Home Affairs Ministry some time ago made a similar statement only for the police to intensify their act. Police are law unto themselves

DE JA VU - 10 February 2015

We knew and we know this so what do you do in a lawless country??

garikayi - 10 February 2015

The justice minister should tell their colleagues in home affairs to desist forthwith from harrassing motorists.

Samuel Mwanza - 10 February 2015

The police have acted like a mafia gang at roadblocks. They will tell you to go to that judge, park your vehicle. What we need is someone to stand his ground like Kembo Mohadi and tell Chihuri to stop this gangsterism.

maita - 10 February 2015

this malpractice is creating a fertile ground for corrupt tendencies. no wonder why the police are milking innocent Zimbabweans.

john - 10 February 2015

Spot fines are part of black rule. When black nationalists, now leaders, were clamouring to govern they had no clue how government operated or more precisely how government economy works. Black politicians thought whites were hiding money for their own use only to the exclusion of blacks - that was the rallying cry. Black politicians were talking about stolen natural resources. When these black politicians got into power they realised things were not as they seemed from outside. Up to now the are still wondering how whites managed to govern so effectively and efficiently. Black politicians have realised that having an abundance of natural resources on paper does not necessarily transform into an abundance of riches as they originally thought. Whites were putting money into the system to make more money. Black have no money to put into the system to make more money so they have to squeeze every cent from long-suffering fellow blacks to try and make the systems work - tollgates and spot fines. There was no such thing as spot fine or tollgates under white rule. Everything was transparent. Black politicians will not readily admit they got it all wrong until they are fired like Didymus Mutasa who is now admitting they got it all wrong.

Musona - 10 February 2015

One sentence should read, "When black nationalists, now leaders, were clamouring to govern they had no clue how government operated or more precisely how a country's economy works".

Musona - 10 February 2015

The judge did the right thing,but he will be labled a traitor,an mdc or anti Matibili,however,he may loose the job because he is blocking a corrupt avenue at national level.

kambudzi - 10 February 2015

ZanuPf officials gave each other free farms. The Reserve Bank then goes on to give these officials and some opposition officials farm machinery and equipment without any collateral whatsoever and now they have failed to pay all taxpayers are being bullied to pay!!!!! To say this is ridiculous is an understatement. How can a black government do this to fellow blacks? The reason why blacks did not have farms during white rule was because they did not have the money or skills to do serious commercial farming. Simple and straightforward as that. Whites who owned farms had the money and skills to do serious commercial farming and did not need the taxpayer to bail them out as the ZanuPF is trying to do now. Money money money. Is this the “liberation” that some morons harp on about? To me this is blatant black oppression.

Musona - 10 February 2015

ATTENTION HARARE CAR OWNERS!!! It has come to my attention that there are thieves that are moving around in free parking places around the greater Harare (along the Avenues Areas, Fifth Street, Livingstone Avenue, etc.) stealing from parked cars. These thieves are targeting small items like grill badges, fog light covers, wheel covers, etc. and any other outside accessories on cars. The thieves' modus operandi is that they pretend to be the car owners or those guys who clean vehicles before stripping the vehicle of some of these accessories. Please make sure that when you park on these free parking bays you reverse park as their main target are accessories on the front of the vehicle. Also make sure that all doors are locked and report any suspicious person milling around cars to the police. PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH FRIENDS AND RELATIVES.

tino zagorakis - 11 February 2015

Ndati ndinyeurire hama nehanzvadzi vano rava magwaro aBrother William Branham kuti pafacebook pane page rinonzi Mess Age Zimbabwe. Riri kundiitira zvakanaka. Rino wanikwa pa www(dot)facebook(dot)com(backslashdotdotbackslash)410629455758527

Kingsley Mhondiwa - 11 February 2015

Thanks @tino zagorakis

kitsi - 11 February 2015

what justice bere did is fundamental because he invited light to the minds of country citizens and expert lay persons...what iz just left is for proper action to be taken in light of that aspect for a precedent to be set in our courts ...i don't see any reason to attempt to critic him in either way

master - 11 February 2015

To be legal and force police to stop collecting spot fines Justice Bere should be in his chambers and there should be a complainat. In the meantime the police will ignore the call

David Panganai - 11 February 2015

@ everyone, please note that there is already a High Court judgment that expresses Justice Francis Bere's sentiments, namely HB 157-12 HCA 64-11 ZAINE BABBAGE v THE STATE. Those that need to download the judgment “HB 157-12 HCA 64-11 ZAINE BABBAGE v THE STATE” delivered by Justices KAMOCHA & CHEDA in 2012 which expresses the same sentiments as expressed by Justice Bere, may easily download it from the ZIM LEGAL SOCIAL FORUM(Z.L.S.F) Facebook page. It was posted on 11-02-15! It's high time ZRP complies with the law rather than for it to be a law unto itself. Daily News you may assist in publishing the judgment verbatim for the benefit of the reading public and to expose the hypocrisy of ZRP. In my view and with all due respect, ZRP's love for spot fines is motivated by the love for 'filthy lucre' rather than by the call of duty!

Maxwell Christian - 12 February 2015

Vana veZimbabwe until and unless we organize ourselves we shall continue to be at the mercy of these cold politicians and extortionists. Let us join hands and fight this beast of a regime that puts the interests of the police before those of its own people. Who in this Robert Mugabe battered economy carries around $5 let alone $20 to pay for spot fines? What is wrong with paying that amout at the nearest police station within the stipulated 7 days? Tikaita mudemhe mudemhe (ma1 rand, 5 rand, $1, etc tikabhadhara gweta redu we can put an end to all this madness.

Tyson Ndizvo! - 13 February 2015

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