KWEKWE — Some traffic police officers are allegedly forging signatures and wrongly interpreting sections of the law to force motorists to pay fines, it has emerged.
Investigations by NewsDay revealed that on July 12, an Assistant Inspector Mutembedza arrested Blessing Maphosa of Bulawayo and charged him with contravening section 7(1) of the Road Traffic Act which makes it illegal to ferry passengers without an operator’s licence.
According to the National Deposit Fines Schedule, Maphosa was supposed to pay a fine of $10 for the offence.
Instead Mutembedza described the offence as “Non-PSV carry passengers x6.” But such an offence is not described in section 7 (1) of the Road Traffic Act.
Maphosa was fined $30 an amount above level three of $20 which police officers are not permitted by law to assess.
Former police officer Tafadzwa Gambiza in an undated letter to the Officer Commanding Kwekwe District, Chief Superintendent Fiona Thlomani, raised complaints on what he termed the illegal operations by police officers which he said amounted to institutional corruption.
“President Robert Mugabe warned police officers about corruption and a nationwide anti-corruption drive was carried out by the ZRP and in line with that campaign we were given posters which prescribed the following,” he wrote.
“Let us all familiarise with relevant sections and corresponding fines: Police only issue Z69 (J) against all fines collected and all deposit fines are prescribed in the National Deposit Fine Schedule.
“Yet your police officers are not issuing Z69(J) receipts and most of the fines they are receipting are not reflected anywhere in the National Deposit Fine Schedule in what I believe is institutionalised corruption by the police.”
Gambiza quoted receipt 7941057 on which Maphosa was fined $10 for contravening section 24(2) of the RTA Chapter 13.11 dangerous tyre.
“This was a false section and the fine was inflated by the arresting officer. The correct fine and section according to the National Deposit Fine schedule is $5 and correct section is 13(4)(a) and not that which was quoted by your officer,” wrote Gambiza.
Confronted with the allegations, Chief Superintendent Thlomani admitted that some officers were making “errors” and were ill-trained for the job.
“With reference to your undated letter of complaint, we carried out investigations and we acknowledge genuine errors by our traffic officers.
“We would like to inform you that we have identified a training need for our traffic officers in your letter of complaint,” she wrote in her response dated August 15.
Gambiza went further to accuse the police of forging other officers’ signatures just to ensure they issued traffic offences receipts which is in contravention of the ZRP standing orders volume one section 22.0.
“On ticket 7341113, a Constable Chikwanda signed his name as the arresting officer noting his force number as 061178X. He then further forged the signature of another police officer with force number 063576R, but erroneously signed his name again as Chikwanda,” Gambiza said.
“Again the traffic officer [Chikwanda], who is attached at VID Kwekwe, forged a signature of his colleague on the ticket and used two force numbers, my understanding of the police force is that one officer has one force number — is forgery not a crime?”
Thlomani, however, did not respond to these allegations in her letter of response.