via ‘Spot fines fuel corruption’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 18, 2016
THE Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa) has said spot fines are fuelling corruption among police officers, recommending that the ticketing system should be re-introduced.
OBEY MANAYITI/SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
ACT-Southern Africa said in most cases, motorists would be forced to pay the spot fines, which are sometimes inflated due to fear.
The organisation said it carried out a study, which revealed that most motorists pay spot fines to avoid having their drivers’ licences and permits seized. Others also paid the fines to avoid inconveniences and being delayed, to prevent their vehicles from being impounded, and surrendered to the Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID).
“Apart from the practice of spot fines being illegal and unconstitutional, motorists insisted that spot fines fuel corruption because of various reasons.
“The bribe money demanded by the police is often less than the gazetted traffic fines and motorists prefer paying bribes since that will be a huge saving on their part,” ACT-Southern Africa programmes director, Obert Chinhamo said.
He said police officers’ salaries were low and corrupt ones demanded bribes to supplement their pay.
“Motorists are time-conscious and do not want to be inconvenienced and prefer paying bribes to drive hassle-free; refusal to pay often leads to vehicles being impounded and taken to VID for mechanical checks and motorists will not have the stipulated spot fines and, therefore, opt for lesser amounts,” Chinhamo said.
He said the re-introduction of tickets would allow motorists to pay the fines within seven days or face prosecution.
Chinhamo said police officers should not be allowed to receive cash at checkpoints, but rather motorists should pay through the bank, mobile money transfer platforms or at police stations.
Meanwhile, thousands of motorists on Zimbabwean roads have been caught unawares as traffic police have started implementing Statutory Instrument 12 of 2015 which came into effect on December 14, last year.
Among other things, the statutory instrument stipulates that all vehicles on the country’s roads should have a set of reflective triangles and should not be driven with biscuit spare wheels.
Motorists have largely been caught on the wrong side due to the lack of knowledge, which, however, is not an acceptable defence.
A Chitungwiza man, Tinotenda Zhou, last week said he was shocked to be fined $10 for having a biscuit spare wheel on stand-by.
“Police stopped me at a roadblock along Seke Road and surprisingly they told me I had no spare wheel though I had an emergency tyre (biscuit) in the boot. The police officer said it was illegal according to Zimbabwean law to have a biscuit as a spare wheel,” he said.
“I am not the only one who got that rude awakening from the traffic cops, who, on this particular day, made a killing in fines, since most motorists were caught unawares. Even the officer-in-charge at St Mary’s Police Station in Chitungwiza told some motorists that the biscuit was illegal. We ended up paying $10 in fines.”
The offence attracts a fine of $20 when the tyre is fitted onto the car.
Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba recently urged drivers to be conversant with the new regulations to avoid arrest and prosecution.
“The specifications for special visual devices (reflective triangles) are as follows: An equilateral triangle, which is reflective on both sides bearing the name of the manufacturer and serial number,” she said in a statement.
Other requirements are that the triangle should be made of flexible plastic, which does not break easily on bending and that there should be instructions on how to place the triangle including minimum distance from the vehicle affixed to the triangle in such a way as not to obstruct the material.