POLICE have dug in on traffic spot fines saying the claim by High Court judge Justice Francis Bere that the fines were illegal was his personal opinion.
BY STAFF REPORTER
In a statement last night, police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said the remarks by Justice Bere would not bar them from demanding stop fines from motorists as they were made outside the courtroom.
Officially opening the High Court Circuit in Masvingo on Monday, Justice Bere rapped police for demanding spot fines and impounding vehicles at roadblocks saying the practice was not supported by the law.
“Police wishes to advise the public that Justice Bere is expressing his own personal opinion and nothing has changed in terms of the procedures which empower the Zimbabwe Republic Police to accept deposit fines whether it is a criminal or traffic offence,” Nyathi said.
“Justice Bere’s statement is not binding on police operations. We encourage the public to continue co-operating with the police on all activities to ensure the smooth delivery of justice in the country and maintenance of law, order and security.” He added: “The issue of deposit fines was duly tabled before Parliament and approved by Cabinet and justified by the Home Affairs minister on several occasions in Parliament, Portfolio Committees deliberations and public fora.
“As an organisation, we view the quoted comments as interference on the separation of powers between the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary. The issue of admission of guilt is regulated by Section 356 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act Chapter 9:07 which allows or permits police to accept fines not exceeding level three.
“In fact, there is a national deposit fine schedule which was designed by the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry and it is reviewed by the same ministry from time to time.”
Nyathi said police had wanted to charge higher fines, but their request was turned down, adding that Treasury had authorised them to accept and retain deposit fines into a bank account approved by government.