IT is illegal for police to impound vehicles at roadblocks to force motorists to pay spot fines as it is outside the scope of their work, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo has said.
Source: Impounding vehicles illegal: Chombo – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 11, 2017
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Chombo said if caught, the traffic police officers will be dealt with.
Responding to questions during a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Chombo said it was not within the professional conduct of police officers to impound vehicles of motorists for refusing to pay spot fines.
He added traffic police officers who impound vehicles were abusing their authority and were “bad apples” that needed to be dealt with.
“No car should be impounded. Those cases might occur here and there, but it’s really not the norm. That is why I said there are also some bad apples within the police traffic enforcement system and if we know the details, I really assure you that they will be dealt with,” Chombo said.
“Of all government departments, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is one of the most stringent departments in terms of dealing with law enforcement agents who are abusing their offices. So if you give us the details, I will also follow it up to ensure that it is done. You, as law-abiding citizens, have to be protected so that you are proud of the work that is being done by the law enforcement agents.”
Chombo, who described the mushrooming of roadblocks as a problem, said the ZRP force was unrolling the electronic traffic management system that will help reduce the number of roadblocks.
“We are fully aware of complaints about the number of roadblocks on our roads. Let me assure you that my ministry is working on a number of initiatives to find lasting solutions to this problem,” he said.
The minister, who presides over the ZRP, said any motorist accused of violating the Traffic Act had a right to contest the matter in court.
“I think the majority of the people exaggerate, misrepresent, hyperbolise and do all sorts of things when they have an exchange with the police,” Chombo said.
“The individuals are free to go to court and contest the matter, but they elect to pay because they know that they are going to lose the case. Why do you pay if you think you are not guilty?”
Police have been impounding motorists’ vehicles for refusing to pay spot fines forcing them to relent to avoid the inconvenience caused after their vehicles are confiscated.
Chombo said his ministry was working to rationalise the number of roadblocks on major roads as a short-term measure of addressing complaints that have been raised by the people.
There has been an outcry that the ever-increasing police presence on the roads was a threat to tourism.