BY CHARLES LAITON
CRIMINALS will now have to dig deeper into their pockets to secure their freedom as the cash-strapped Zanu PF government has given police and magistrates’ courts the green light to impose fines of between $200 and $120 000, NewsDay Weekender has learnt.
According to a new fines schedule published in the Government Gazette yesterday, the fines come into effect immediately.
An accused person is now expected to pay a minimum of $200 admission of guilt fine for levels one to three offences from a previous charge of $20.
Levels four to 14 offences now attract between $1 500 and $120 000. The maximum charge used to be $10 000.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi gazetted the new standard scale of fines under Statutory Instrument (SI) 57 of 2020.
According to the Criminal Law Codification and Reform (Standard Scale of Fines) Notice, Ziyambi, in consultation with Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, made the adjustments to the fines in terms of section 280 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23], as read with section 24(1) of the Finance (No 2) Act, 2019.
“This notice may be cited as the Criminal Law Codification and Reform (Standard Scale of Fines) Notice, 2020. The First Schedule to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act is repealed and the following is substituted “First Schedule (Sections 2(1) and 280) Standard Scale of Fines”,” Ziyambi said.
According to the government, the standard scale of fines which the police used to assess — from level one to level three — has been increased from $20 to between $200 and $500 depending on the assessment of the officer-in-charge.
Some of the minor offences under this level include driving without due care, public drinking and/or public fighting, among others.
Criminal offences which do not fall under the jurisdiction of the police, but are referred to the magistrates courts will now attract fines of between $1 200 and $120 000.
These are offences falling under levels four to 14, such as pick-pocketing, shoplifting, tampering with Zesa and telecommunications equipment, among others.