Motorists get spot fines relief

Source: Motorists get spot fines relief – DailyNews Live

Tendai Kamhungira      25 February 2017

HARARE – In a major development that will give relief to thousands of
motorists who complain about the random and unrelenting harassment at
roadblocks, police have admitted that they have no right to force drivers
to pay spot fines.

This followed a High Court ruling on Wednesday which established that
there was no law that allowed police to confiscate licences and impound
vehicles of drivers who refused to pay spot fines.

At the same time, police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri has called
for steep increases in spot fines, which he said would curb Zimbabwe’s
worsening road carnage and reckless driving.

In the High Court application filed by Andrew Makunura, who was
represented by Tonderai Bhatasara, in which he sought an order barring
police from demanding spot fines, and that he be given back his driver’s
licence, police made the welcome concession that paying spot fines was
optional.

Judge Esther Muremba subsequently ruled that spot fines were illegal.

“In their plea, the defendants (including Home Affairs minister Ignatius
Chombo and Chihuri) denied that when the plaintiff failed to pay the spot
fine he was detained or compelled to pay it as paying a spot fine is
optional to motorists who are willing to do so.

“The defendants averred that spot fines have already been declared to be
unconstitutional in terms of the old Constitution and as such they
(defendants) have no reason to disrespect the law,” Muremba noted.

“The defendants made an admission that the confiscation of a driver’s
licence at roadblocks to compel motorists to pay spot fine abrogates
Sections 49, 66, 69 (1) and (3, 86 (3) (e) and 71 of the Constitution of
Zimbabwe.

“As a result police officers are allowed to accept fines from motorists at
roadblocks if motorists are admitting to the offences and are willing to
pay the fine to save themselves from the trouble of having to pay the fine
later or from having to appear in court on a subsequent date to answer to
the charges that they are already admitting to.

“What is illegal is for police officers at roadblocks to force motorists
to pay spot fines against their will,” Muremba added.

“Compelling motorists who are disputing the offence to pay fines against
their will infringes their right to a fair hearing before an independent
and impartial court.

“It means that they are arrested by the police, tried by the police,
convicted by the police and sentenced by the police without being given an
opportunity to present their case or their side of the story to a person
who has no interest in the matter and is therefore not biased,” Muremba
said further.

In February 2015, another High Court judge, Justice Francis Bere had also
ruled that there was no legal framework or law which compelled motorists
to pay spot fines, or which empowered the police to impound someone’s
motor vehicle.

In Makunura’s case, his driver’s licence was confiscated by police after
he failed to pay a $10 fine for not possessing a radio licence.

In his court application, he argued that the demand for spot fines was
illegal and inconsistent with the Constitution.

“The demand of payment of a fine on the spot is legally not supportable
and constitutionally impermissible. To compound it, the manner in which
respondents go about administering the spot fines regime abrogates the
right to a fair trial among others,” Makunura had argued.

Meanwhile, Chihuri told legislators on Thursday that the government must
hike  spot fines to stem both road carnage and crime, including drunken
driving.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 2
  • comment-avatar
    Joe Cool 5 years ago

    Let us all now REFUSE TO PAY A SPOT FINE – WHETHER GUILTY OR NOT, and opt to go to court. If EVERYONE sticks to this, ALL the roadblocks will be off the roads in less than two weeks.

  • comment-avatar
    amina 5 years ago

    Road repairs a done by Zinara. However the collection of fines is done by ZRP, there is no allocation of funds from ZRP to Zinara as ZRP are not collection agents of revenue. What that means is that ZRP since 2000 has been collecting money from motorist and also getting funding for salaries from Consolidated fund and abusing the spot funds. There must be an audit of these spot fines. Its public money.