Zim Motorists Troop To Court Over Spots Fines

Bulawayo, March 20, 2015-High Court Judge Justice Andrew Mutema is this Friday scheduled hear an urgent chamber application filed by a Bulawayo motorist Njabuliso Mguni seeking an order directing the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to release his vehicle which they impounded after he allegedly failed to pay a $50 spot fine.

Mguni was forced to petition the High Court after his Toyota Carina vehicle was impounded early this month and kept at the Traffic Section in Bulawayo, commonly known as Drill Hall by the police without following any known lawful procedure.

The Bulawayo-based motorist was stopped by traffic police officers at a road block on 16 March 2015, who accused him of driving a vehicle with a third number plate that appeared to have been tempered with and hence he should pay a fine of $20. The police officers also demanded that the motorist should pay an additional fine of $20 for an alleged missing rear number plate light, and an additional $10 for the alleged missing front reflectors giving a total of $50.

However, Mguni asked the police officers to issue him with a ticket so that he would be able to practice his lawful options as he was not in a position to pay the fine so demanded as he did not have money on him.

But his request was dismissed by the police officers who insisted on impounding the vehicle until he pays the $50 fine.

Upon leaving Drill Hall, Mguni enquired as to what offence he was being charged with and documentation for the charge. He was only served with a dirty small piece of paper which simply indicated what he was supposed to pay for the vehicle to be released. No sections of any law were cited, nor was he given any official documents or any shown to him, a procedure which he protested is not authorised by any law and therefore unlawful.

To date, Mguni alleges that he has not received any call from the police after leaving his contact details and the vehicle still remains in the custody of the police.

In his urgent chamber application filed on Wednesday by his lawyers Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Mguni wants the police to release the vehicle into his custody without any conditions and in the event that there are any allegations against him or the vehicle they should follow the laid procedure in justice administration.

Mguni has listed the Officer in Charge of the Traffic Section in Bulawayo,  the Officer Commanding ZRP Bulawayo District and Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi as respondents to the urgent chamber application.

Mguni becomes the second motorist to challenge the police practice of demanding spot fines after a Harare motorist Andrew Makunura petitioned the Constitutional Court last month seeking an order declaring that the demand to pay a fine on the spot from motorists by the police is constitutionally invalid as it violates his rights enshrined in Section 69 (1) and (3), 66, 68, 71 and 86 (3) of the Constitution.