Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
HOME Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo says police have no legal right to collect more than $20 per traffic offence, a revelation that puts to rest debate on the $100 fine that was proposed by Treasury in the 2016 National Budget.
There are indications that some traffic cops have also been charging more than $20 for some offences.
In a tabled response in the Senate to a question on the maximum amount police officers could collect per offence, Minister Chombo said fines were guided by the schedule of deposits fine.
He was responding to MDC-T Senator Lilian Timveous, who also asked Minister Chombo to clarify the use of P65 forms by traffic police.
“The maximum amount of fine that can be accepted for a single offence by police is US$20,” said Minister Chombo.
“This is clearly outlined in Schedule of Deposits Fine. However, the total amount of fines that can be accepted from an accused person depends with the number of offences committed and these are charged for separately on the official police ticket book.
“For instance, a motorist can be charged for not having a valid vehicle licence, no headlights and worn-out tyres. These offences are indicated separately on the police ticket books. On P65 Forms, ZRP does not have any P65 Forms in its traffic enforcement system.”
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa proposed an upward review of traffic fines when he presented the 2016 National Budget statement in November last year.
He proposed that motorists who proceed against a red traffic light, overtake over a solid white line, drive without a licence or operate faulty vehicles without a foot brake would be fined $100 for each offence up from $20.
Legal practitioners have already stated that traffic cops have no right to fine motorists the proposed $100 fines because they have not been gazetted.
They argued that motorists who have been fined the amount can successfully mount a court challenge against the police.
University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Professor Lovemore Madhuku is on record as saying the proposed fines could not be implemented because they had not been gazetted.
He said a ministerial statement was not legally binding.
Prof Madhuku was recently quoted by The Herald stating that: “A Statutory Instrument is legislation and in saying that the fines have not been introduced by legislation, we mean that there is neither an Act nor a Statutory Instrument.
“Up to this point, no Statutory Instrument has been gazetted. The rule ‘rule of law’ in Section 3 of our Constitution prohibits the exercise of power without legal base. So, any affected person is entitled to refuse to pay the $100 fine.”
Veritas Zimbabwe, an organisation which monitors law making, said in a statement that it was clear that the proposed increase, from $20 to $100, in spot fines for minor traffic offenses had not been implemented.
It said the law remained as it was before Minister Chinamasa’s Budget Statement, with the maximum spot fine police can demand still at Level 3 according to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Section 356(1).
A Level 3 fine is at $20 as provided for by the Criminal Law Code, Section 280 as read with the First Schedule.
“There is nothing to change that position in the Finance (No. 2) Act or the numerous statutory instruments gazetted up to and including the 1st January (2016) to give effect to the budget,” said Veritas.
Veritas noted that an amendment to Section 356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act would require an Act of Parliament.
“A change to the monetary value of Level 3 of $20 in the Standard Scale of Fines (First Schedule, Criminal Law Code) could be made by a Statutory Instrument, but only after a draft Statutory Instrument had been approved by Parliament,” the organisation said.