BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE Judicial Service Commission has approved the proposed new schedule of fines for COVID-19 regulation violations, which will see offenders paying a maximum of $5 000 for violating preventive protocols.
The scale of fines, up to level three, were approved by Chief Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi on Monday.
According to the schedule, members of the public will be fined $1 000 for failing to put on a mask which is a level one offence, a 100% increase from the previous scale.
Level two offences attract a fine of $2 000, while accused persons will pay $5 000 for level three offences.
Other finable offences include disregarding curfew hours, operating private taxis and gatherings of more than two individuals in public places.
In Parliament last week during debate on the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) (Standard Scale of Fines) Notice 2021, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the hefty fines would be deterrent to offenders.
“Madam Speaker, the fines that we are introducing are motivated by the need to ensure that we have law and order in the country,” Ziyambi said.
“We also need fines that are deterrent. So they are pretty much consistent with what the Finance ministry is doing. We do not want affordable fines.
“They will not be deterrent enough. So we want them to be deterrent so that the populace will be discouraged to commit crimes. That is the thrust that we are taking. We do not want to link that with inflation as if the levels of fines are a measure of economic growth.”
Legislators argued that the hefty fines would promote corruption as the cash-squeezed public would opt to pay bribes than go to court.
During post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa urged police to strictly enforce adherence to COVID-19 regulations.
Health experts have bemoaned the laxity being exhibited by the public, resulting in a surge in infections and deaths.
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