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Hike spot fines: Chihuri

By Blessings Mashaya

Government must steeply hike spot fines to make them more punitive to stem road crime and carnage, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri said yesterday.

Police chief Augustine Chihuri
Police chief Augustine Chihuri

The police chief told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development — which was touring the law enforcement agency’s transport management and computerisation centre at Chikurubi — that legislators should push for steep fines for traffic violations, including drunken driving; measures he claimed would introduce discipline on some of the country’s most dangerous roads.

“The fines are such that once you pay, you forget it. Take for example in Germany, if you commit an offence, they take all your number plates and for you to get one plate (back), you need to fork out $10 000, which is $20 000 for the two,” Chihuri told the lawmakers.

“I think for us, the number of people who commit road offences will continue to increase because of small fines. But with the new system, all this will be a thing of the past.”

Chihuri claimed spot fines and spikes were lawful.

“Yes spikes are legal.…spot fines are also legal. People forget that as police, we need to be protected from criminals. Everyone sees our mistakes because we work with people all the time,” he said.

In justifying stiffer penalties, Chihuri said last year alone, 36 police officers were injured, with three of them getting killed after being hit by motorists trying to escape arrest.

This comes after Chihuri, Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and Attorney-General, Prince Machaya, in November last year unanimously conceded that it was unconstitutional for traffic police officers to detain and demand payment of spot fines from motorists at roadblocks.

The trio made the concessions in response to a High Court application filed by a Harare motorist, Andrew Makunura, who was ordered to pay a spot fine for not having a radio listener’s licence, but went on to file a constitutional challenge against payment of spot fines.

Chihuri’s sentiments came after Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in the 2017 budget hiked standard fines — which were last reviewed in February 2009 — by up to 100 percent with effect from January 1.

Chinamasa, like Chihuri, also argued that the penalty structure had been found to be ineffective, given the rising road fatalities that were largely attributed to the failure by motorists to observe road rules. Daily News

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