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'Spot fines illegal in Zimbabwe'

Police are fleecing Zimbabweans by illegally forcing motorists to pay spot fines, High Court Judge Francis Bere has said.

Addressing reporters and other stakeholders at the official opening of High Court circuit in Masvingo this afternoon, Justice Bere said the government needed to act urgently to stop the practice which he said violated the constitutional rights of motorists.

He said there was no law in Zimbabwe's books that authorised police to demand spot fines.

Justice Bere said the correct position was to allow motorists to choose between paying a fine on the spot or paying it at a later date.

He noted that police infringed citizens' rights by threatening to impound their vehicles or detaining them for long periods at roadblocks if they did not pay traffic fines on the spot.

"It occurs to me that any collection by the police ,must be made in terms of Section 356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07). That piece of legislation does not support the manner the spot fines are being collected and handled by the police. The section does not give them power to force motorists if he or she does not wish to do so or if he does not have the money on his person," said justice Bere.

He said the law states that police should send all documentation about spot fines to the courts for confirmation by magistrates, but noted this was not being done.

He said Zimbabweans had developed a tendency to watch silently while police demanded bribes from motorists and called on the government to seriously tackle the issue.

Police have in the past vowed to continue collecting spot fines, saying it was the only way they could avoid using scarce resources to hunt errant drivers who failed to pay at a later date.
(Inappropriate report?)

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